QU grads bring sun safety technology to North Haven, Wallingford

QU grads bring sun safety technology to North Haven, Wallingford



reporter photo

NORTH HAVEN — With outdoor temps in the 90s on Monday, a group of Quinnipiac University graduates presented a new sun safety device, installed for the next two months on the Town Green.

SOLaware Technologies, a company developed by graduates from the Quinnipiac University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, created the digital device called the SOLaware Display, which informs people about UV level.

SOLaware Display devices are leased to local businesses and municipalities with the goal of lowering the risk of sunburn and skin cancer.

SOLaware Technologies is a division of Hamden-based Vanessa Research, Inc.

Ferenc Fazekas, a Hungarian Fulbright scholar who earned an MBA from Quinnipiac in 2017, is the project leader.

He said the inspiration came from his love of being outdoors. As a fair-skinned person, he’s also aware of the precautions he must to take to avoid skin damage.

“If I (take precautions) for myself,” he said, “why don’t we scale it for, like, helping thousands of people? And if we do it good, it could be successful in many ways.”

Wallingford Community Pool is slated to receive a SOLaware Display this summer.

How it works

Rotating sensors on top of the SOLaware Display are constantly updating the UV index, capturing peak UV measurements and translating the data to a UV scale from low to extreme.

“We call it an artificial sunflower,” Fazekas said. 

There’s also a display showing how long a person can stay in the sun before risking skin damage.

An additional display contains information about preventative steps, like applying sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.

There’s also room on the device to install a sunscreen dispenser.

On Monday afternoon, the UV index rated very high and the display warned that a person can suffer damage if they remain outside for 15 minutes without any protection. 

“It’s not discouraging people to spend time outdoors,” Fazekas said, “because it’s great. We all love to have fun outside, but at the same time, be (outside) in a safe way.”

The device is battery-powered. For next year’s model, Fazekas said, the top priority is to make it solar-powered. He also wants to add a skin tone scanner to provide a personalized skin protection recommendation.

Pilot program

SOLaware Technologies has launched a pilot program, offering towns and businesses a device at a discounted monthly rate of $250. 

North Haven plans to install a second display, with funding from the Parks and Recreation budget, First Selectman Michael Freda said.

Freda said Monday the device on the green will help summer concert-goers on Tuesday nights be more aware of the lingering effects of the daytime heat.

 Other towns slated to install them include Middletown and Milford, and they’ve already been installed in Darien.

Freda, a former business executive, said it’s important to support young, creative, professional individuals. He said he provided business advice to the team and introduced them to fellow municipal leaders.

“I’m grateful that we were able to collaborate on this,” he said. 

LTakores@record-journal.com

203-317-2212

Twitter: @LCTakores


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