Type: Thesis
Category: Internet Of Things, App development, UX design
Date: May 2016

SunChaser is an "Internet of Things" application that gathers your sunlight exposure data from a wearable and translates that into a wall mounted lamp


The project Sunchaser started with my personal story. I was born and raised in a sunny, warm island, Jeju, South Korea. I was very lucky to grow up in the island’s warm climate - its average annual temperature is 60 fahrenheit degrees, and it is sunny most of the time except during the typhoon season or wintry days. Almost three years ago, I moved to Somerville, Massachusetts. It’s an adorable town to live in, but due to its location and weather, it isn’t one of the the sunniest places especially during fall and winter. After I moved to New York, I realized it was not much different from Boston. Shadows cast by the high rise buildings and the busy sedentary lifestyle eventually gave me vitamin D deficiency. As a girl who came from a warm and sunny island, I had a hard time adjusting to the long winter in Massachusetts and New York in the first few months


According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, it is common that people living in northern latitudes do not get enough vitamin D during the cold season. Modern, sedentary lifestyle and cold weather, low motivation can contribute to a lack of sunlight exposure. Most of all, many people are not aware of the amount of sun exposure their bodies need, so they tend to be underexposed during the cold season which affects their overall health. Not getting enough sunlight can cause Vitamin D deficiency Seasonal affective disorder Weak immune system Cognitive impairment It’s often recommended to take supplements or artificial sunlight for better health, but the best and cheaper remedy is going outside and expose to the sun couple times a week.


From my personal experience and research, I'm convinced that sunlight is essential for the overall health, so
I wanted people to be aware of its benefits better and go outside and enjoy the sun.

How it works

The lamp visualizes the data using lights to act as a reminder of the importance of sun exposure. A wearable device will track the user's sunlight exposure throughout the day, and this device sends data to the phone that communicates with the lamp. When the user comes home, the wall lamp will capture and visualize your sun exposure. If the user gets exposed to the recommended amount of daily sunlight, all ten sides of the lamp will light up. If not, only a few or none will be turned on.

The each side of the lamp represents 10 percent of the full sunlight exposure required for the day. If the user gets less than 50% exposure, the lamp will be flickering to make them aware of the current level. If it’s more than 50%, it will illuminate with solid light. To get the full brightness of the lamp, the user needs to achieve the required level for the day.


It's difficult to quantify how much the sun is beneficial for every individual, since skin pigmentation affects how much radiation your skin absorbs: For example, if the day isn’t bright enough and UV index is 3-5, the user who have medium skin ton (skin type 2) needs to get 20 mins sunlight. If the user only got 10 mins of sunlight, then he achieve 50% of the goal of the day.) Based on this information, I set my personal goal at 15 minutes of exposure to the sun.


I’ve explored many ways to make the device as small as possible. First, I started with a big bread board, and tried to make it smaller and thinner by using the circuit board. For the material, I tried oak, brass, plastic, acrylic and nickel silver, and turns out acrylic and oak were best fit for the output.


This sun exposure indicator, a 17 x 17 inch, 10 sided polygon lamp is made of LED strip, Arduino Yun, Oak and Acrylic. Originally I planned to use different sets of colors for the light, but I decided that warm white LED light would be the perfect fit for the natural light effect.

Mobile App Mockup


With Don Coleman's big help, I was able to figure out the technology I needed to implement for my idea. When UV sensor responses to sunlight, RFduino sends data to iOS phone, which is powered by a coin battery. The phone sends to data to server to save the information. LED light attached to an Arduino Yun listens for message from the server then presents data with lights.


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Made with by Jinu Kang