SPIES Travel, a Danish travel company, was curious about the real effects of sunny holiday vacations on winter blues. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a common winter depression in sun-deprived northerly climes, affects up to one in four Danes. A few symptoms of these winter blues include, tiredness, crying spells, irritability, fatigue, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, trouble concentrating, and overeating associated with weight gain.
Considering the reach of this winter affliction and the severity of symptoms, SPIES Travel teamed up with the Technical University of Denmark to learn how much energy people get from a sunny holiday. SPIES Travel built two solar-charging dummies with advanced flexible solar cells for skin and a battery inside, and sent them on separate holidays to compare the effects of sun on recharging the body. For a seven day vacation, one unfortunate dummy, Ulrik, had a “stay-cation” and went to nearby Solrød, 20 miles from freezing Copenhagen. The other dummy, Søren, spent the week in sunny Gran Canaria, Spain, just off the west coast of Africa.
Upon returning from vacation, the robots underwent tests to show how much energy they got from their holiday, both in a home and work environment. The tests were for endurance typing at work and bed-stamina at home. Soren, the dummy who took the sun-filled vacation, had more energy and out-performed Ulrik, demonstrating the importance of sunlight on energy levels.