Superbas: A Sunlight Exposure Tracker

Class: Personal Informatics Design  Date: Jan - Jun 2017  Category: Interaction Design, UX Research, and Product Management

What It IS

By visualizing the amount of sunlight exposure, Superbas inspires behavior change. It encourages users by giving concrete incentives to go outside and spend time in the sun.  


User interviews with five graduate students revealed that people were not only concerned about not getting enough sunlight but getting too much as well and increasing their risk to skin cancer. 

Sunlight is a mood booster and helps with circadian rhythm.
— User participant #1
Sunburns contribute to a high risk of skin cancer
— User participant #2
If there was something social to do, Iā€™d go outside.
— User participant #3
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  • Provide salient notifications and suggestions on how to get more sunlight
  • Help people track the correlation between their mood and sunlight exposure

Track SunLight Exposure

  • Ensure that you're getting just the right amount with the sun meter
  • Earn or lose currency based on how you're doing on the sun meter
  • Have fun playing a collaborative game that encourages teamwork and motivates people to spend time outside with others

It can be worn as a badge or accessed as an app on one's iPhone or Apple Watch. This allows users to immediately check how much sun they have gotten all day. 

Users can see how close they are to achieving their optimal amount of sun exposure and also report their mood. Illustrations indicate how much they are thriving based on if they've gotten too much, enough, or not enough sunlight that day. To support emotional and mental health, users are able to track how their time in the sun may map to their exposure to the sun. 

User research showed that people not only were concerned about getting enough sunlight but were actually concerned about getting too much sun. This scale gives them instant feedback so that they can adjust their time outside. 

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A small sprout indicates that they've got a long way to go before they meet their optimal amount of exposure. A healthy leaf shows that they're on track. A burning leaf indicates that they've gotten too much exposure to the sun and that they should spend some time either indoors or under an overhang. 

Playful, fun emojis make it easier for users to document how they are feeling. Users want to be more responsible in tracking their emotional health and see how it maps to their engagement and relationship with the outside world. 

For those who like Pokemon Go and incentives to stay engaged, providing small steps to encourage changes in behavior could nudge users in making those small changes to spend more time outside. Having the right amount of exposure to the sun increases one's currency, which allows them to buy trees that they can plant. They can also track how their friends are doing and work together to build a garden. 

User research revealed that people feel more motivated to go outside if it involves some sort of social engagement. By building in a social incentive, this game illustrates that spending time outside can be an inherently social, collaborative experience. 

This video captures a demo of sensors that indicate when someone has gotten an optimal amount of sunlight for the day.