Most of us have a hard time remembering our dreams, especially the ones that we’d really like to recall. When we do remember them, especially immediately after waking from one, it’s a common feeling to wish you were still in it or, better yet, had a chance to be active in it once you knew it was just a dream. A new device promises to help sleepers realize they’re dreaming, participate in the dream and go on lucid adventures. It even promises allow users to stimulate their brains into a lucid dream state and enter into someone else’s dreams. Is this for real or are they dreaming?
The magic dream box is called the Lucid Dreamer and it’s the brainchild (dreamchild?) of Neuromodulation Technologies B.V., a Dutch firm that has set up a crowdfunding program to to get it off the ground. Depending on the level of investment, you can the basic Lucid Dreamer Essential, which has two frequencies of brain stimulation; the Pro, which has a wider range of stimulation frequencies and intensities; and the Connect, which is a Pro with an app that allows the user to notify another Lucid Dreamer that they’re on a lucid dream adventure so they can try to share and even possibly enter into each other’s dreams. Is this really a good idea, especially if many of your dreams involve flying around naked in front of a group of strangers (asking for a friend)?
The term “lucid dream” was coined in 1913 by Frederik van Eeden, a Dutch author and psychiatrist. (What is it about the Dutch and dreams? Too much chocolate, pot and sex?) A lucid dream is defined as a dream during which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming and can possibly interact with the people and environment and influence the narrative of the dream.
While there are training programs that help people influence their lucid dreaming through mental exercises, Dr. Derk Mulder and Dr. André Keizer, the Dutch neuroscientists who invented it, claim the Lucid Dreamer does the work for you. The device is attached to the forehead and electrodes are placed in designated areas. Once you fall asleep, the Lucid Dreamer wakes up.
The Lucid Dreamer uses advanced algorithms that detect when you start dreaming. These algorithms use the electrical signals from the brain, which are measured with EEG (electroencephalogram). Measuring brain activity to detect the onset of a dream is much more accurate than the more conventional method of using eye-movement data.
The electric signals are gamma waves which have frequency between 25 and 100 Hz. Once the waves are detected, the device emits a Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) to increase them and wake up the conscious mind to participate in the dream. This technique is based on a 2014 study by Ursula Voss from the Goethe-University Frankfurt Germany which showed that enhancing gamma activity caused lucid dreams 77% of the time.
So far, the Lucid Dreamer has only been tested on its own developers. The web site assures that it’s safe and not electroshock therapy. The FAQs address concerns and point out that, while the Lucid Dreamer gets you into the lucid dream, you still have to learn on your own how to get more involved in them.
Then there’s the dream sharing app, which promises to allow the user to “Connect with a Dream Friend and try to dream together – your Lucid Dreamer will sync up with the time of stimulation and settings of your Dream Friend.” So you’re sharing your dreams but not really sharing ‘inside’ each other’s dreams, although the website promises that “Is dream sharing really possible? The answer is out there, and thanks to new technology, we have the power to discover it for ourselves!”
Sounds interesting. More info requires crowdfunding. Before investing, it’s always a good idea to sleep on it.