The new Aurora headband – is it a rare magical sight, or a load of Borealis?

27 12 2013
The Aurora headband

The Aurora headband

Currently there is a project on Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding website which we at Lucid Dream Art find quite fascinating.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iwinks/the-aurora-dream-enhancing-headband

The Aurora is a ‘smart’ headband device (currently a prototype) which is worn on the head to track your sleep patterns using a clever algorithm.

It will play personalized lights and sounds during REM to help the user have ‘lucid’ dreams.

It can also act as a ‘smart’ alarm clock.

On Boxing Day 2013, iWinks LLC, the Californian-based team behind the Aurora project, along with the backers achieved the primary goal of $90,000 so the project is now officially funded.

 

Background

A lucid dream is a dream where a person realises they are dreaming whilst in a dream. This type of technology found in the Aurora headband is relatively unique with the combination of detection techniques employed.

It was Stephen LaBerge and his team at the Lucidity Institute who created the original NovaDreamer which relied on IR sensor LED technology to detect and flash bright red lights during REM periods back in the early 1990’s.

All these devices even the recent ones like the REMEE mask that uses a timer to flash the lights, rely on the creation of dream signs or ‘cues’ whilst the dream is happening (DILD.)

This is also known as EILD – External Induced Lucid Dream, where a device has been used to artificially been used to create the stimulus.

 

The People

The people behind the Aurora iWinks project are:

Daniel Schoonover – Founder and Hardware Engineer

Andrew Smiley – Founder and Software Engineer

Jack Payne – Creative Solutions

Danny Anderson – Application Developer

 

Newer Technology

The Aurora relies on brainwave detection (EEG,) motion detection (an Accelerometer,) eye-movement detection (EOG) along with measuring software along with the latest Bluetooth 4.0 technology for low power consumption and interfacing to other devices like your smartphone or computer-related device.

The app created by iWinks will allow the user to customise their own dreamsigns and cues with unlimited possibilities.

Three electrodes are used in the headband to detect the signals. The EEG used in the headband uses the Neurosky based amplifier chip.

This makes it unique and different to the earlier dream masks mentioned above.

 

Open API

According to iWinks, the headband will be programmable. The sensor readings and sleep-stage algorithm data will be accessible.

This opens up other possibilities including Biofeedback and Meditation uses for example.

This API will be known as The Open Sleep platform, giving use to code libraries, TCP/IP and WebSocket support.

 

The future

There is a $300k current stretch goal for the end of January 2014. This goal would mean that no smartphone would be needed as the algorithm would be embedded in the Aurora headband itself.

Manufacturing specifications will be finalized, and by spring 2014 the beta models will roll out for developers to test and evaluate.

The official shipment is currently in June 2014.

A conservative $175 per unit is quoted on the iWinks Kickstarter Home page, although savvy purchasers (by backing) can still buy an Aurora at a limited discounted ‘later bird special’ price of *$160 plus $25 USD shipping cost (if ordering outside of the USA.)

Other backing support pledges start from a $1 bumper sticker, an iWinks t-shirt, a discounted Aurora, a chance to help with Aurora beta, etc. right up to the $10k ‘Oneironaut Extraordinaire’ (Full Monty) pledge package.

 

Risks

According to the iWinks Kickstarter Home page, the Aurora will need more sleep data to hone and tweak the REM-detection algorithm.

Also there would be limitations with ‘older’ platforms in using the newer Bluetooth 4.0 plus there would be cross-platform limitations due to the different operating systems and technology standards in use currently.

It would be interesting to see how comfortable the headband is, plus if there is any movement whilst wearing it in bed which might adversely affect performance?

We are particularly ‘cock-a-hoop’ at seeing the disclaimer about ‘lucid dreaming being hard!’

We second that motion bro!

*(Current price and availability as of Dec 27th 2013)

Roll on $300k… ?

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