Boston teens introduce smart shade for fighting seasonal affective disorder

While those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying long summer days, thoughts of cold, dark months and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are easy to put out of our minds. A team of Boston teens, however, has been focused on battling this common form of depression. Their solution? The Smile Shade, a sunlamp that doubles as a roll-up window shade.

The group consists of four high school students; Andy Kreiss, Ethan Wood, Maia Levitt, and Micah Reid, who worked together on the project at NuVu Studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their goal was to create a new way to treat SAD that replaces tabletop sunlamps, which they feel are inconvenient and limiting. Specifically, the team wanted to produce an alternative that does not require users to alter their daily routine or take up unnecessary space in the home or office.

Their smart shade hangs like any other traditional window curtain, so it doesn’t require any counter or table space. Once installed, the device shines light through the curtain, making it appear as though natural sunlight is streaming into the room. This more realistic-looking light adds to the psychological effect, according to the team.

As for convenience, the Smile Shade can be installed in a room that users frequent so that it fits seamlessly into their daily routine. Moreover, the device works with a smartphone, so the light can be set to an automatic schedule, be turned on or off remotely, or dimmed as needed. It serves as a creative solution, made all the more impressive by the creators’ young ages.

Nuvu Studio brings together middle and high school students to work on design, computer science, and engineering projects with the help of experts. Other exciting projects students have worked on to solve real-world challenges include a mask that aims to convey emotions by flashing corresponding colors, inexpensive but reliable cycling shoes, and a device that alerts users when they require more sunblock. If this generation is our future, we may just be okay.


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