Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Bioengineering graduate develops app to tackle sunburn

Bioengineering graduate develops world-leading app to tackle sunburn

Ming Cheuk, who graduated from the University of Auckland today with a PhD in Bioengineering, is one of the brains behind an app being used worldwide to help people understand their risk of sunburn.

UVLens® is a personalised sun safety app available for free download worldwide on iOS and Android.

“It starts by asking questions to help users determine their skin type,” says 26-year-old Ming, who grew up in Henderson, Auckland.

Along with a forecast of the ultraviolet levels at your location, UVLens® reports how long it could take you to get sunburnt and suggests appropriate sun protection such as a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

“We really focused on building a clear and easy to use interface so it’s a great tool for educating children and adults alike about the risks of UV radiation,” says Ming.

Since its launch last year, UVLens® has been featured on the Apple App Store homepage which gathered 50 million impressions in five days. Since then it has appeared on television talk shows Today (USA) and Galileo(Germany) and in New York Times, Mashable and Gizmodo, UK.

The world-leading app grew out of successful research into a wearable sensor to measure UV risk called UVSense, which won Ming and fellow student Daniel Xu, the 2013 New Zealand Microsoft Imagine Cup national finals – a competition for new technologies that help solve some of the world’s toughest problems.

“We saw that sunburn and skin cancer were major issues in New Zealand but there were no new technologies to help solve these problems,” says Ming, who was then in the first year of his PhD.
After competing in the Imagine Cup world finals in St Petersburg, Ming returned to New Zealand determined to be involved in cutting edge research and innovation that would lead to developing a start-up company
In the years since, he has studied for his PhD in Bio-instrumentation at Auckland Bioengineering Institute and at the same time co-founded, with Daniel Xu, technology company Spark 64 Ltd developing UVLens®.

UVLens® initially focused on education, providing digital information and tools to teach people about UV and sun safety. In a partnership with Banana Boat sunscreen, over 100 UV sensors were installed around the country to protect preschool children from the sun.

Now the company has partnered with medical insurer Southern Cross to deliver UV reports and sun safety tips direct to their customers. Spark 64 Ltd is also exploring other technologies including chatbots.

For Ming, Chief Technology Officer of the company, his job is a dream come true. His parents both independently moved to New Zealand from China several years before he was born and he is the first in his family to graduate from university. His younger brother is currently in his second year at medical school at the University of Auckland.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Off The Hidden Path - Five Los Angeles Treasures (Part I)

The immense cultural diversity of LA provides an extraordinary variety of lifestyles and arhcitecture. Here are five 'hidden' destinations where the discerning traveller can appreciate and enjoy this unique and constantly evolving metropolis. More>>

City Of 100 Lovers: Multi-Million Dollar NZ Theatre Production To Launch

Produced in New Zealand with an $8 million budget, this musical comedy has been created with both locals and tourists in mind. More>>

Howard Davis Review: The Outsider Art of Tony Fomison

Among such gifted contemporaries as Bill Hammond, Tony de la Tour, and printmaker Jason Grieg, Fomison distinguished himself as highly idiosyncratic, and could have become wealthy, had not his demons prevented him from investing his income wisely. In his near monochrome oil painting on black hessian, he staked out a territory of morbid originality. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Immortal Love

The series has a wild-west tone with a steampunk vibe, so if you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s Firefly or Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea, then chances are you’ll enjoy this book. More>>

Howard Davis Review: The Trappings of Success - McQueen

This troubling documentary about the extraordinary life and untimely death of British fashion designer Alexander McQueen is a cautionary tale of an extremely gifted, but self-destructive soul caught up in a business that chews up and spits out its creative talent. More>>

Indycars: Dixon Wins Fifth US Championship

The New Zealand motor racing driver Scott Dixon has won the US Indycar championship for the fifth time, finishing second in the final race of the season in Sonoma, California. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland