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TECHNOLOGY

Gadget makes for 'safer' tan

By Julie Clothier for CNN

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Ed Phillips' says his "Mytan" device allows people to get a tan without getting sun burnt.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- There may be no such thing as a "safe tan" but an English design graduate has created a device he hopes will stop those who insist on exposing themselves to the sun's harmful rays from getting burnt.

Ed Phillips, from Essex, created the "Mytan" electronic handheld device as part of his final year of a design degree at Brunel University in west London.

Mytan creates a formula of sunscreen, tailor-made for the user, based on their skin type.

They input their physical characteristics, selecting from a menu the description that best suits them, including eye, skin and hair color, the number of freckles they have and how exposing their skin to the sun changes its color.

They are then required to input the amount of time they will be spending in the sun that day.

The device itself is then placed in direct sunlight for a minute so that it can read the sun's strength and take an average reading using an inbuilt UV index sensor.

Using that information, it determines the level of sunscreen required to stop the person's skin from getting sun burnt but still allowing them to develop a tan.

Mytan dispenses one of six different sunscreen factors ranging, from 15 to 30, by mixing different ratios of high and low factor sunscreens.

It also monitors the sun's strength throughout the day and lets the user know if they need to use a higher-protection formula, and reminds them to reapply sunscreen every two hours.

More than 7,000 Britons were diagnosed with skin cancer in 2004 -- an increase of 25 percent in the past 10 years. Experts predict cases of the disease set to treble in the next 30 years.

Phillips, 23, came up with the idea for the gadget after holidaying in the west of France last year when a friend insisted on being in the sun to get some color.

"He ended up getting very badly sun burnt. No matter how many times we are told that being in the sun is bad for us, people still do it. My device aims to deal with the vanity side of things," he says.

"It's to help people tan safely. It's not about not exposing yourself at all, it's about exposing yourself safely and still getting a tan."

Phillips' work was exhibited this month at the New Designers show in London, which showcases inventions by more than 2,000 students from 200 design courses in the United Kingdom.

Another London-based design student, Dominique Zawisza, used London's 2012 Olympic bid, which the city won last week, as inspiration for her design, incorporating the five Olympic rings into her final-year project.

The 21-year-old, whose work was also on display at the New Designers show, has created a ceramic bowl whereby a logo appears on the bottom of its surface once the food has been eaten.

A silicon food release agent is imprinted on the bowl, which reacts with food, particularly liquids, to form an image.

In the case of Zawisza's prototype, the image is the Olympic rings.

Zawisza has recently graduated from Ravensbourne College of Design and Communications in Kent with an undergraduate degree in product and furniture design.

She says the method is a great way of a company to brand itself and the ideal use for her product would be on an aircraft -- where plastic crockery used at present normally has a life span of about three or four uses.

Other works on display at the New Designers show include a biometric fingerprint-activated pill dispenser; a kitchen-based gadget that automatically sends your shopping list to your local supermarket, based on the spaces in your cupboards; and a pre-programmed device fitted to supermarket shopping trolleys that can detect whether food placed in the basket will aggravate a shopper's allergies.

Glass specialist Shan Valla, of Buckinghamshire Chilterns University, was named the BDC New Designer of the Year for her hand-blown designs.

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