Case Studies

Wearable UV Sensor

PCH worked with a world leading personal care and beauty company to develop the first battery- free wearable electronic UV sensor, taking a hand-made prototype and transforming for large- scale manufacture.

Feasibility, Product Development, Sensor Validation, Ingress Protection Architecture, Industrialization and Packaging Support
Design Partner

The challenge

Our partner challenged PCH to deliver a manufacturable design for a brand-new technology to be introduced to the consumer market. With short timelines and ambitious intent, our customer was aiming to take an early prototype thumbnail sensor and evolve it into a fashionable UV sensor that could be attached to clothing, sunglasses and accessories.

Like its ground-breaking predecessor, which PCH also design-engineered and manufactured, the sensor would need to accurately detect critical levels of UV exposure, be suitable for high-volume manufacturing and keep the customer experience at the forefront.

After PCH conducted an initial Design-For-Manufacturing and feasibility study, as well as prototyping and device beta, PCH determined that an accessory would be the best customer experience. PCH also redesigned the circuit board layout and mechanical variations to ensure high performance and time-to-market.

It was apparent that the technical feasibility of the product required changes in the design and use case. Working with our partner’s R&D team, parallel work-streams were initiated between PCH’s design engineering team and I.D. partner, fuseproject.

PCH’s role was to create a customer-facing product, moving from design to
manufacturability, that could be produced on a large-scale basis without impacting sensor performance.

PCH solution

PCH led on technical feasibility, product development, sensor validation, ingress protection architecture, industrialization and packaging support, among other areas.

When the decision was made to move to an alternative design, we quickly prototyped production intent components and streamlined builds. Housing this work within PCH allowed for rapid iteration with our client involved daily and made immediate changes possible based on daily results.

Our integrated team structure meant the manufacturing team was involved from the beginning and incorporated Design-For-Assembly/Design-For-Manufacturing from the start. This allowed us to transition quickly from design to manufacturing.

We generated a host of data to verify and validate the updated design including simulating and prototyping very small NFC antennae. Initially developing small volume 3D prints, we then used production intent materials and processes to build working prototypes for rigorous performance-testing. Functional testing required the use of a solar simulator for a controlled UV environment, RF instruments, as well as testing outdoors to test the user environment.

Our team of design engineers and manufacturing experts focused on functionality and production intent from the get-go, including electrical architecture, validation and part-design for manufacturability.

Battery-free, designed to clipped to shirt, hat or sunglasses and with an associated smartphone app, the key was to ensure that high-volume manufacturing would not impact sensor efficacy.

The result

By parallel-pathing multiple workstreams with our partner and fuseproject, PCH’s team has brought a handmade prototype to a clip design which is functionally superior, ready for high-volume manufacturing and developed with a UX focus – all within a short timeframe.

With accurate UV detection and durable design, it fits in with users’ busy schedules, health focus and individual styles. The product shipped in Q4 2018 and further iterations are in exploration.