How to disrupt a problem like skin cancer: L'Oréal on setting a precedent through (almost!) invisible innovation

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In a recent edition of our Featured Innovators series, we chatted with MC10, who partnered with L'Oreal to create My UV Patch - an adhesive patch that monitors UV rays, with smartphone-accessible results.

But, as we're all aware, each side of a collaboration presents different challenges and sources of inspiration. We spoke with Guive Balooch - Global Vice President of L'Oreal Technology Incubator - to hear how one of the world's most popular cosmetics companies approached tackling a problem as prominent as skin cancer. 

Guive Balooch, L'Oreal

What was the inspiration behind My UV Patch?

Skin cancer is the most prominent type of cancer in our nation, and UV exposure is a huge concern for our customers. We were interested in finding a way to leverage new technology to help educate consumers about their exposure levels.

My UV Patch was born in our San Francisco labs from the idea that connected technologies have the potential to completely disrupt how we monitor the skin’s exposure to a number of external factors. Our goal was to design a sensor that was thin, comfortable and pretty much weightless so people would actually want to wear it.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

One of the hardest things was creating the design itself. Wearables have historically been clunky, which isn’t an ideal user experience. Wearables that blend seamlessly with the day-to-day—including shirts woven with microsensors, stretchable “second-skin” patches like ours, and even ingestible health sensors—are the future. With My UV Patch, we wanted to set a standard for what the future of wearables should look like. I think we accomplished that!

While we announced My UV Patch at the beginning of 2016 at CES, it just recently became widely available. La Roche-Posay is L’Oréal’s dermatological skincare brand that’s recognized for its best-in-class sunscreen products, so it was a natural fit to collaborate with them on this project. The patch is free and available at select dermatologist offices, some Women’s Dermatological Society skin check events and through key e-commerce retail partners.

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What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

Make innovation a key part of your business. Have people at your organization whose job it is to think about not only where the world is going but what that means for the consumer and their evolving needs.

You’re featured in our briefing that addresses our IMPACT INDICATORS trend - covering instant and useful real-time feedback on health and wellness impacts. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

We need to get smarter about how we, as the creators of wearables, provide data to consumers that provides real value to their lives. More data isn’t always better; the key is for it to tie back to the end goal. For example, it’s great that someone knows how many steps they take each day, but it’s also important for them to understand how that is impacting their health.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why? 

My UV Patch of course! We are also really excited about augmented and virtual reality, customization and exploring new technologies to bring new experiences to our consumers. Like a lot of companies, we’re thinking hard about how we can innovate to provide value and improve the customer experience.

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