It seems to me like lucid dream mask technology is akin to waiting for the proverbial London bus where nothing turns up for ages, and then all of a sudden out of the blue, two or three show up in one go.
Everybody is still waiting for the eagerly awaited NovaDreamer 2 from the Lucidity Institute, otherwise aptly known as the N2D2 which is overdue for release.
The Aurora by iWinks LLC has also overrun. It is due to be beta tested still.
However there are at least three new kids on the block, all trying to muscle in on the void left by Laberge and his associates.
The end of September, beginning of October 2014 saw the launch of two lucid dream-related projects on Kickstarter alone, whilst there is also a headband prototype with its own Facebook publicity page and website launched earlier this year back in July.
The first of these devices is by a new company calling itself Oneirics Electronics which has links to the EU, namely Spain, which is run by a guy calling himself Tony.
Tony (aka Toni Moreno Frias) himself claims to have been researching sleep and dreams for the last 3 years, (we found nothing?) although his 3D model making background skills are visibly apparent in the project which is more than can be said for the strange voice over dubbing in the promo video.
The prototype mask product itself is reliant on traditional IR detection technology with an AI-type algorithm, a wrist trainer, Bluetooth 4.0 LE and a smartphone diary all thrown in.
For $199 as an early pledge, the buyer gets a mask, whilst $59 gets you the trainer, which incidentally is not the ‘world’s first dream trainer’ as stated on the main home page for the project.
This honour goes to the P.E.S.T. (Programmable Electronic State Tester) trainer by yes you guessed it, Dr Stephen Laberge.
Oneirics raised over $18,000 of the $100K goal after the first day, although it has since come to a virtual crawl with currently just over $31,734 raised with a fortnight until the funding campaign officially closes.
An overly-ambitious $1M stretch goal will allow the creation of the ‘dream’ social network it is hoped, so all your dream secrets can be hacked just like the iCloud ‘nudegate’ incident for all and sundry to see.
In contrast to the impressive-looking but glitzy hype of the ‘Live Your Dreams’ campaign by the Oneirics team, the other Kickstarter offering is the ‘cheap and cheerful’ Guidy sleep mask which has an initial backer price of 80 Euro.
Vay Technologies (also a new company) are based in the Netherlands.
Ilias Paragulgov is the man running the campaign which includes a small team of engineers and designers.
The prototype images remind me of a hack based on a MCU and current IR sensor technology, although we are reminded on the project page that an accelerometer and a gyroscope are also used, along with Bluetooth 4.0 included for smartphone communication.
This all fits in a rather basic but functional, robust looking sleep mask along with the rechargeable battery.
A REM-detection figure of 100 percent is claimed by the makers of the mask prototype. Hmm?
Vay Technologies are chasing at least 47,000 EUR where €1,603 has already been pledged by eager backers with about a month left to run currently.
This leads me on to the last and possibly the least of the three offerings, namely the so-called but rather dubious-looking Luciding headband, which according to the Viennese-based Russian team is based around REM detection and a tACS circuit module apparently using 40Hz brain stimulation according to the company claims.
The company themselves are running a pre-Kickstarter (publicity) campaign on their main website, whilst using Facebook and other social media to raise awareness of their rather slim and non-obtrusive looking headband.
The module at the front is so slim we in fact wonder how you can cram all that new technology, which would include the board, REM-detection, processing and tACS circuitry, Bluetooth AND a battery in such a small space?
An electronic version of a matryoshka doll no doubt.
The headband and module are also likely to get moved up or to one side when you sleep. This all which will render at the very least a tACS mask that is inoperative, or at the very worst, electrodes or magnets in the wrong place which could lead to a potential hazard where the wrong part of the brain is stimulated with unknown consequences.
Even the guys and girls are shown wearing it wrong!
The project team behind the headband somehow guarantee lucid dreams 99% of the time – yes 99%!
We think nyet!
“Luciding guarantee two things to those who will use our unique devices:
1) You will have lucid dreams every night you wear it with 99% success rate
2) Not only will you remember you had a lucid dream, but will also remember what you did in that dream and all the details”
(Source from *original – Luciding Facebook page post dated October 25th 2014.)
This is after Ursula Voss; et al, achieved a lucidity rate of about 70% in a sleep laboratory study of 27 previously untrained subjects using 25 and 40 Hz gamma wave brain stimulation.
(Source – Nature neuroscience, May 2014.)
Ms Voss and her colleagues published their findings which is what the technology in the headband is based on.
However unlike the German sleep researchers, the makers of the Luciding headband seem a bit coy in regard to publishing their data and findings to back up their bold claims.
The Luciding headband is being currently offered for $290 with subscription.
Shipment of the headband is planned by the end of October 2014 with a Kickstarter campaign based on personal feedback later on.
Hmm, take ding out of the name and we get Luci, and we all remember what happened there!
This brings me on to a couple of final points about these products, namely the risks, etc.
Backing and funding projects and prototypes inherently carries risks which include product delays, sourcing of materials and production costs amongst others.
There is also the often unknown quantity of the persons promoting the idea. Often the companies are new with little background information hence the use of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter.
It is always advisable to do your research beforehand. If it sounds too good to be true then it usually is!
This seems all the rage with the current crop of sleep masks and headbands offered. Then you need the latest smartphone which is an extra cost in itself.
The question you have to ask yourself is it really safe to have any type of Bluetooth-enabled device pulsing out microwave radiation strapped to your forehead for 8 hours a night?
Oh sorry, I stand corrected: the Bluetooth device is the tACS feature.
(Mask and associated photos courtesy of Oneirics Electronics SL, Vay Technologies, and Luciding.com)
*The original Facebook page is now discontinued due to a violation. The current page which replaced it has been edited since however.