Perhaps the most significant development in black light (UV) skin analysis devices since their inception in the 1930's has been made recently by a enterprising Dutch inventor with a passion for technology.
What he and his team have developed will change the way we visually analyse skin forever....
It is widely recognised that the biggest stumbling blocks of traditional black light skin scanners and woods lamp type devices is that the light sources have been less than optimal due to variable qualities of the fluorescent tubes being used, and the discomfort for the clients being in a claustrophobic environment for the 5-10 minutes of the analysis with the device.
The use of precision LED's, high resolution digital cameras and special software has changed all this.
Special narrow band light sources and filters have enabled never seen before clarity of UV imaging, and reduced the time the client is being examined under the cover of the device to under a minute.
This 21st Century technology is the brainchild of Dutch inventor Walter Arkesteijn, who has named his device appropriately the "Observ".
Walter was aware the principles of skin fluorescence had been widely accepted in the professional skin care community for decades, but understood why conventional Wood’s lamp technology could never release the full potential of fluorescence based skin diagnosis.
Walter made it his personal "mission" to develop a technology that could release the full potential of fluorescence based skin analysis, and with a devoted team of engineers, realised that goal 8 years later.
Not only did the team succeed in developing a technology which brings out hidden skin conditions with a distinction and contrast as never seen before, but they also made sure that the technology could be used in conjunction with one of the most popular mobile computer technologies available: the iPad.
The use of the iPad as the image capture/processing device makes the examination much faster, while gathering client data and all analysis imagery to a proprietary software app in one short session.
The high resolution images can be examined in great detail with a number of specialised filters and zoom functions to provide both valuable diagnosis information and a superb communication tool for client consultations.
The Observ communicates with the iPad via wireless Bluetooth, allowing all of the manual controls to be adjusted via the iPad.
For therapists and clinicians who wish to use a conventional examination approach (Non-software assisted), the Observ can also be used totally manually; just like a conventional skin scanner by looking through the viewing port.
The major benefits compared to conventional skin scanners in the manual mode is that there is total control of the light type (Daylight, Woods, True UV, Parallel/cross polarized) and intensity, along with a timer. Features never before found on skin scanner devices.
The secret of the Observ device is the use of low intensity, but very pure UV LED light sources.
Via an ingenious system of optics and computer-calculated mirrors, invisible UV light is projected into the facial skin in a much more uniform coverage than conventional skin scanners.
The rays travel through all layers of the skin, deep into the dermis, and because the cells in the human skin tissue have the natural capacity to turn these invisible rays into visible light, different cells and skin tissues in different conditions create different fluorescent illumination patterns.
Consequently, skin impairments and conditions which previously could hardly be seen by the naked eye, now clearly stand out from normal healthy skin tissue.
The new technology also allows the instant switching to a clinical daylight illumination and special modes bringing out the surface texture of the skin and pigmentation or vascularity hidden beneath the surface of the skin.
In the short period the client is under the hood of the Observ, the client can be viewed under six different light sources. These include:
• Daylight (For the clinical evolution) The skin as seen in an controlled natural daylight environment. Perfect for before/after photos)
• Cross polarized (Look into the skin) With the skin’s surface shine suppressed, you can obtain an unobstructed view of dermal structures, vascular conditions, inflammation, pigmentation etc.
• Parallel Polarized (Show the surface texture) An enhanced view of the skin’s surface; fine lines, microrelief, wrinkles, texture and pores.
• Simulated Woods lamp (Modernised) The light dermatologists and skin therapist are familiar with. By adjusting the spectrum, the distribution of skin secretions is revealed in colour.
• True UV (Fluorescence skin analysis) The new LED light source that is 3 times more effective than conventional tubes has enabled this analysis that shows not only skin abnormalities on the skin’s surface or in deeper skin layers but creates distinguishable fluorescence patterns that stand out from surrounding healthy skin.
• Complexion analysis (Irregularities revealed) Normally found on devices costing over ten thousand dollars, the complexion analysis reveals in homogeneities in skin tone, pigmentation irregularities and irritations.
The software on the iPad uses the camera images to show comparison side-by side pictures across combinations of all the light sources. (Example shown above) This is very useful for communication skin conditions etc to the client.
The Observ provides clearer, more detailed viewing and images than conventonal ﬂuorescent tube UV devices, and the use of precision, narrow band LED polychromatic LEDs means that there are no lamps to replace-EVER!
All illumination modes are digitally adjustable for intensity, so safer than conventional BLB UV light sources.
Of course there is also a a magniﬁed client mirror, so your client see what you do when inside the device.
The Observ comes in it's own travel friendly case and is light weight, (6.5Kg) for easy transportation and has a universal power adapter. (All outlet types and 120-240v)
Packed with useful features, smaller, lighter and very portable, the Observ will become the preferred visual analysis tool for the discerning skin care practitioner of the new millennium who understands that a thorough skin analysis is an essential part of any treatment and product advice that is to meet their client’s needs and expectations.
For more information visit www.observ-diagnostic.com
About the Author
Ralph Hill is technology writer, illustrator and editor for Virtual Beauty Corporation. He has a background in science, electronics and electro-mechanical devices, but enjoys researching and writing on a myriad of skin care related topics including cosmetic chemistry and anatomy & physiology.