Kickstarter dreams – A blank ‘reality’ cheque?

30 05 2017

Crowdfunding and sleep projects I feel, especially lucid dream-related ones seem to be all the rage nowadays. It has got to the mind-numbing stage where even more tactics are used to get the funding by all means necessary, including all the fake news or reviews, along with the latest pseudo-scientific buzzwords in technology; plus it must have an app that does everything, but nothing as well.

luciding pound sign logo

 

Take  the term ‘neuromodulation’ for example.  One outfit called Luciding have taken this buzzword to heart. I guess to them it all sounds very scientific and plausible, in comparison with ‘brain zapping’ which conjures up all manner of negative associations such as ‘electric shock treatment’ or therapy in the real world today.

 

In recent times, apart from foc.us, the Ukranian team of Luciding are not the first individuals to peddle this ‘science’ in the public domain however. In crowdfunding circles that dubious honour goes to the creators of the Lucid Dreamer tACS headset, namely André Keizer & Derk Mulder from The Netherlands. To recap, the project funding was cancelled by the creators earlier this year after they could not guarantee the device would work for “all, or even most of you”. Honesty goes a long way it seems, even on Kickstarter.

 

Voss

In the context of lucid dreaming the findings are based on the work of Ursula Voss, et al. (Circa. 2014).

The results however could not be reliably obtained outside a laboratory setting. Even so many have tried replicating the original Voss findings. The actual level or definition of lucidity used has been questioned since, especially by people on the various dream forums. Many remain sceptical about this technology.

We initially reported on Luciding after they began experimentation with their fledgling prototype headband back in 2014. Their device claimed to use a method of 40 Hz brain stimulation based mainly on the work of Ursula Voss in order to induce lucid dreams via a pay-per-dream, ‘dreams – as a service’ app model.

References to an initial hyped claim of “99% lucidity – guaranteed!” all fell on deaf ears, mainly because people saw through the b.s. especially after the Luci soap opera saga. This ‘pin on the donkey’ figure was soon hastily revised to suit, but not before some early advocates (or apostols [sic]) fell under the spell of Luciding. Blame it all on Google Translate, no doubt.

LucidCatcher headband kickstarter

Fast-forward nearly three years. The Luciding headband has now ‘evolved’ into the (so-called) LucidCatcher on Kickstarter for an eye-watering $380 USD. The ‘pay-per-dream’ claim has been dropped (officially), along with the stuffed owl toy. Incidentally it is funny how iWinks use the same owl mascot symbol in the Aurora Dreamband marketing campaign. I often wondered if both parties were in cahoots?

 

LucidCatcher (update)

The Luciding campaign is roughly half-way through with 20 days still yet to go. Currently just over $32k has been raised by over 100 backers. This falls well short of the $75,000 needed for successful funding.

I noticed on the site that there is no mention of safety whatsoever! The ‘dry’ electrodes used will have a poor, or an intermittent contact on the scalp over time, during the night which will result in impedance changes in relation to the skin contact area. The app may not be able to correct if it is out of range – recalibrate or shut/meltdown?

Stumbrys et al, (2013) mentions that skin irritation occurred at the point of electrode contact. Subjects would scratch the area during tDCS stimulation, indicating some itching sensations.  Dry electrodes were not used incidentally, which begs the question about their overall use and efficiency in stimulation experiments. Especially somewhere outside the relative safety of a supervised laboratory environment by suitably qualified and trained personnel, unlike the typical home use scenario.

In fact red marks ‘like sunburn’ have already been reported by one early tester (albeit an earlier prototype), whilst other devices ‘simply didn’t work’. (Source: reddit.com).

lucid dream scam?

 

Potential backers therefore should not be swayed by the faux reviews by any such project creator or their acolytes and associates. Conducting your own research and investigation will reap rewards. It will help you decide before committing to any crowdfunding project such as this typical example. There are risks involved, even with the best business plans, let alone the get rich quick schemes based on greed.

Common sense never hurt anybody, unlike having a big hole in your wallet, or worse still your brain for that matter.

It is also worth considering the following questions. Does the creator pay lip service to the customer base it is marketing the product to? Once funded, does it treat their backers with a wall of silence or contempt? Are they only in it for the money or the commercial aspect of their business? Are they actually interested in the subject area primarily rather than just the profit and publicity to be made out of it all?

Finally, in this case ignore the hype and read between the lines. Ask yourself, is the 3 month fast track of lucid ‘dream yoga’ worth paying over $300+ for? Do a reality check before these characters cash it. You may wait 36 months or more, like the guys over at iWinks for instance. Black may never go out of fashion, but customer loyalty does.

 

Image(s) courtesy of © Kickstarter/Luciding (2017).

 

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