CES 2014: The June sun sensor, a wearable computer that doesn't suck


The June (Peter Nowak)

I’m at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, which means I’m going to be knee-deep in everything from 4K TVs to wearable computers and auto technology for the foreseeable future.

I’m going to keep it short and sweet here as a result. I thought it might be cool to highlight one gadget from the show each day that in some way stands out. Today’s first entry, which I spotted at the official CES Unveiled pre-show on Sunday afternoon, is the “June” sun sensor from Paris-based Netatmo.

The June is a simple and elegant wristband or brooch, designed for women, that monitors its wearer’s exposure to the sun with a built-in ultraviolet sensor. Exposure is then tracked on a smartphone – Apple for now, Android soon… sorry Windows and BlackBerry users – so you can see whether you need to get out of the sun, or perhaps put on sun screen. The app also provides UV forecasts so you can plan ahead.

It’s perhaps not the ideal gadget to be thinking of up in snowy Canada right now, but it’s actually the perfect kind of wearable computer since it avoids all the foibles I mentioned recently when I dumped on the category as a whole.

For one, it isn’t complicated and is very easy to use, and it’s also inexpensive – Netatmo is aiming for a price point of around $99. It’s also relatively stylish, coming in three colours: gold, platinum or gun-metal grey, so it’s not hideous like most smart watches. Most importantly, as a company spokesperson put it, “it does something that the other [devices] don’t.”

Smartphones generally don’t have UV sensors (for now), so the June fills a niche that no one else looks to be touching. It thus deftly gets around all the pitfalls so-called wearables have fallen into so far.