My Australian friend had skin cancer when she was barely out of her teens. Sunny Australia has the highest rate of this form of cancer than anywhere else in the world - indeed one in two Australians will develop skin cancer in the course of the lifetime.

So I was pleased to see that UV sensitive beads are no longer just for kids craft or school science projects. They can be used as an early warning sign to seek shade when the ultra violet rays from the sun get to be too much. Incorporating these beads in something that people wear outdoors sounds like a good idea.

These beads change into different colours in the sun and go colourless when taken indoors. The Japanese cellphone strap and accessory superstore Strapya World sells a nifty charm called the UV Bead Checker made up of these beads as well as a Swarovski crystal at the end.

Information Aesthetics reviewed two bikinis with inbuilt UV detection. One was the "Smart Bikini" featured a smart fabric UV meter with a LED display and the other, a low tech version (right) just had the purple beads strategically placed. The beads were considered easier to read and definitely a whole lot cheaper too.