About this project
If you missed our campaign we're still collecting preorders on our webstore for Aurora: The Dream-Enhancing Headband!
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Lucid Dreaming Made Easy!
The Aurora is a headband that plays special lights and sounds during REM to help you become aware that you are dreaming as you stay asleep - allowing you to take control of your dreams! The idea of lucid dreaming has been around for centuries. In this state, anything is possible: zoom through space, fight fire-breathing dragons or become president, all from the comfort and safety of your own bed!
You wont need a smartphone to use The Aurora, although our app will make it easy to set up your dreamsigns and our Smart Alarm Clock - which knows exactly when to wake you up so you'll feel most refreshed in the morning! Our professionally-validated software and research-grade sensors paired with an easy-to-use open API ensure iWinks technology will stay current for years to come.
Lucid dreams are about more than just entertainment; they can also improve waking life. Research shows that those who lucid dream regularly experience fewer nightmares and lower levels of stress and anxiety. Visualizing activities during dreams actually improves performance of those activities in waking life. The Aurora can help you nail that upcoming presentation, hit the game-winning shot or ask your future spouse out on your first date - all while getting a better night's rest! We spend one third of our lives asleep. Why not make the most of that time? People from all walks of life, such as Salvador Dali, Stephen King, Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla looked to their dreams for inspiration. Now you can too!
Optimized Technology Onboard
Our innovative software knows when you dream by measuring brainwave and eye-movement activity, while also tracking body movements. Cutting-edge Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) technology enables seamless connections to other devices (Android, iOS, desktop), power savings, and a platform for out-of-the-box 3rd party app development.
Our app will allow you to create and share your very own dream signs. You'll be able to coordinate a full spectrum of dazzling light effects from the Aurora with sounds from your music library or personal recordings; there will be endless ways to help direct the dream experience. Create daring dreamsigns with quick, loud flashes for an immediate lucidity alert, or try softer, less apparent tones to subtly modulate your dreamscape! Why not transport your dreams to the beach with seagull and wave sounds over a pulsating blue ocean, or curl up to a cozy fire with crackling wood and orange/red hues? The possibilities are truly limitless.
A Smarter Alarm Clock
Our app knows exactly when to wake you up so you'll feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. If you've ever had a full night of sleep but felt groggy and not refreshed in the morning, chances are your alarm clock woke you up during a deep phase of sleep!
Humans wake up naturally during light phases of sleep and our app will help you get the most out of your sleep: simply set a desired period for awakening and our intelligent alarm clock will gently wake you up during the lightest phase of sleep, leaving you feeling as refreshed as possible!
We have funded this project completely out-of pocket for many years, and purposefully avoided venture capital to preserve the purity of our vision. Dreams are very personal and we didn't want corporate sponsors trying to advertise to us during ours! Now that we're finally ready to share our breakthrough technology, Kickstarter seemed like the perfect fit for us. Your support will go directly towards manufacturing our new sleek, pro design.
We have already begun sourcing parts and assembly services for a large order. We've worked hard to lower our cost estimates and landed on a conservative $175 per unit.
Aurora is Autonomous
We've committed to embedding our algorithm in the Aurora itself. This means no smartphone required - just you, a bed and the Aurora! We'll include tons of awesome Bluetooth features, but upgrade our circuit with an additional DSP-capable microprocessor will improve LED control, provide higher resolution EEG and drastically improve our battery life. We estimate weeks of use on a single charge. Check out this video to see some of the fun lighting effects you'll be able to see in your dreams.
Production Plan 2014
We strongly believe that the open-source community will lead the front on dream exploration. Our headbands were designed to be programmable, and we will continue to release new firmware as we create it.We plan to open our application programming interface (API), allowing access to our sensor readings and sleep staging algorithm. Whether it be Interactive social dreaming, biofeedback, or meditation training, the Aurora platform will enable applications that we haven't even imagined yet.
Beta Make It Great-A
Algorithms like ours require lots of data representative of many different people, environments, and sleep habits. Our exclusive beta test period will ensure our user experience is rich and rewarding for a wide audience before we release our product to the public, and will allow developers to get a head start building their own software with the Aurora as we craft the API.
At its heart, the Aurora is a sleep-tracking headband. Our experiments with real-time sleep stage detection have proven very accurate with 90% of our experimental subjects. While our partnering sleep clinic has done a great job collecting preliminary data for us, crowdsourcing will provide more data than we could ever collect in a clinic. After release, we'll still collect user feedback, anonymous statistics and release software updates.
Our story begins in 2009, when Daniel Schoonover interned with leading biosensor company Neurosky. That winter, Daniel, a graduate student in Electrical Engineering, met Andrew Smiley (B.S Computer Engineering) playing jazz at a Great Gatsby-themed house party. We were inspired by Neurosky's hardware and began exploring EEG-based lucid dreaming solutions. We knew we needed a way to collect and label sleep data if we were going to create a REM-detection algorithm and Andrew, with one of his signature feats of software wizardry, did just that.
Around that time, a new Bluetooth technology was announced, which promised lower-power wireless communication. Daniel began designing a circuit from the ground up, employing the latest Bluetooth 4 LE (Low Energy) module and an EEG amplifier licensed from Neurosky.
As Daniel breadboarded the initial design, Andrew began developing firmware that would allow the Aurora to communicate with wireless devices using the brand-new (and heavily under-documented) Bluetooth LE. We began printing our own PCBs and, after many revisions and countless hours of soldering, we had a fully-functional circuit!
A vital piece of the hardware puzzle were the brainwaves sensors themselves - electrodes! Most research-grade EEG applications require very expensive, precision sensors. After hours of experimentation we stumbled upon a process to create significantly less expensive electrodes while maintaining a generous signal-to-noise ratio.
Using a customized electronics enclosure, we were able to fit the battery and circuits into a compact plastic case. It would not go on to win any design competitions, but has served our purposes well.
Professionally Validated Software
With a prototype fully realized, we just needed an accurate way to detect REM! For over a year, our partners at Sleep960 have been collecting professional polysomnograms of subjects also wearing our headband to sleep. Daniel's machine learning background came in handy when he began creating an algorithm that simulates the way a professional sleep scientist would analyze your sleep patterns- automagically. That algorithm will continue to improve as we collect even more data and user feedback from users like you.
Low Profile Formfactor
We partnered with Warrior Engineering to handle our industrial design and mechanical development. We mocked up dozens of concepts to house our electronics.
Their experience designing headwear ensured our design would be comfortable for everyone’s unique head size and shape, while guaranteeing our LEDs would reach the eyes with light tube technology. Together we landed on a beautiful enclosure design for the Aurora.
One of a kind App
In Fall 2011, Andrew met Danny Anderson in a graduate machine learning course while they were pursuing M.S's in Computer Science at UCSD. Danny is a talented iOS developer responsible for apps including Air Time! and Photo Investigator. We have worked on developing our iOS app for over a year. In its current form, the app can already receive real-time EEG from the Aurora while simultaneously playing sounds and controlling the LEDs. We are now integrating our algorithm in a way that will make cross-platform support a cinch while also enabling us to update the algorithm in the future.
Your sleep stage information will be available when you wake up, and you'll be able to log your dreams in the cloud. The iWinks service will be a breeding ground for innovation in dream-enhancement technology.
Let's Build Aurora Together
How can you help us move forward? Get involved! If you can't afford to help us out right now (we know times are tough), simply talking about and sharing our project (link under video) with your friends would really help us out!
A Special Thanks from the iWinks Team
Daniel met the final addition to our team, Jack Payne (B.A., M.S., Ph.D. candidate in Cognitive Neuroscience) while visiting prospective graduate schools. A fellow musician, creative designer and producer, Jack is a literal jack-of-all-trades and has really helped take our vision to the next level. Our team has had great fun working on the project and it would be a dream come true to turn this project into a full-time business for us all!
Want to Learn More About Lucid Dreaming?
Lucidipedia.com has extensive resources on lucid dreaming.
r/luciddreaming is a great subreddit for people to talk about their lucid dreaming experiences with various techniques.
Partners of iWinks
Our friends over at DreamsCloud have generously provided free professional dream reflections for our Lucid Dreamer funding level! These personally-crafted reflections will help you make sense of your dream and are provided by world-renowned dream specialists.
Wendel helped us out big time by making our video for kickstarter. We can't thank them enough!
The wonderful people at dreamlabs.io have been kind enough to let us print this beautiful infographic in a wall poster to use as an incentive.
Risks and challenges
We believe that the Aurora contains the most state-of-the-art sleep staging available within the lucid dreaming community, although the REM-detection algorithm is not yet perfect. We have collected a healthy amount of data from our partnering sleep clinic. However, the more data we feed our REM detection algorithm, the more accurate it will become. Incorporating sleep data collected by the Aurora paired with user feedback will be instrumental in ensuring the algorithm is robust enough for everyone to experience.
Lucid Dreaming is hard.
For those looking to experience lucid dreaming for the first time, the Aurora is the perfect tool. However, inexperienced oneironauts should be aware that achieving lucidity is only the first step. It often takes a bit of practice to maintain lucidity in the dream without waking up. For those newbies, we'll be providing useful tips and directing them to other communities dedicated to helping dreamers improve their lucid experiences to ensure they are best equipped to master their dreams. Finally, lucid dreaming doesn't always imply complete control over one's dreams. In fact, many lucid dreamers prefer simply observing their dreams while lucid, in hopes of discovering insights to their subconscious.
Bluetooth 4 Device Support.
While our research shows that Bluetooth 4 is poised to become the new standard for wireless communication, there are still many popular manufacturers that have yet to equip their devices with full support of the protocol - after all, this is truly cutting-edge technology and is entirely different from previous Bluetooth versions. To make sure nobody is left behind, we will be supporting the use of a USB dongle that will emulate Bluetooth 4 capabilities on older computers.
With so many devices and operating systems out there, it is truly difficult to develop and maintain quality software compatible with all platforms. While we can't promise we'll be able to support all platforms immediately, we have a game plan to do so that involves building simple native applications for each platform that will allow the device to interface with a fully-featured web application built using the latest HTML5 technology.
You sure do! Everyone that purchases the Aurora will have access to all the necessary applications.
We will have applications built for iPhone, Android and desktop (Windows and MacOS) computers.
Yes they will. Using lights to induce lucid dreaming has been proven with scientific research.
No one has really attempted to use sounds (much less sounds and lights together), but our preliminary tests are looking good. We'll have a very detailed post about it written up before the end of the campaign.
There are a few ways to make this happen. In the device's current form, you can use the headphone jack on your smartphone to connect headphones if you don't want to use the speaker.
We totally get it. On-board audio would be super cool and useful and now that we have decided to integrate a MCU with a digital-to-analog converter it might be possible to implement. However there’s more to onboard audio than simply attaching a headphone jack - it requires several additional circuit components, changes to our firmware and software and the additional R&D labor not to mention increases size and cost of our circuit boards (and enclosure). As you may already know, we do not take decisions like this lightly.
That being said, on-board audio has not been ruled out and is something we'll continue to look in to. From the beginning we considered the possibility of including an MCU, and so provisions were made early on to make sure such an addition wouldn't be too difficult later on. On the other hand, on-board audio is not something we seriously considered until recently since it adds quite a bit of complexity to an already complex project.
So while we can't guarantee on-board audio will make it into the Aurora, we can promise that if the problem can be solved in a smart and cost-effective way, we'll do everything in our power to meet the needs of the community.
Using our latest prototypes we've collected some preliminary test results in regards to the effectiveness of our technology on lucid dreaming. We’ve been working on this project for a long time now and over the years our various prototype implementations have lent to all kinds of great experiences with lucid dreaming. We’ve learned a ton about how we can use this technology to its greatest potential. With each iteration we improved our design and swapped out our EEG amps with different solutions and so were required to collect new sleep data from our clinic (not cheap) to create a validated sleep stage classifier. Our most recent implementation is by far the lowest power, most cost effective EEG solution we’ve ever seen, though we completed that latest proof of concept just a little before our kickstarter campaign launched. Honestly we had no idea we would receive this much attention from the community! Since our kickstarter campaign began we have had very little time and energy for anything, especially around bedtime. So as you read on please keep in mind that our approach has always been rooted in (and will continue to cite) validated scientific research from peer-reviewed academic journals. For your convenience one of those papers can be found here: http://www.lucidity.com/DreamLight_Validity.txt
With our latest Aurora prototypes, we recently collected the necessary sleep data from our partnering clinic to create a preliminary sleep classifier. Our algorithm works quite well and we’re happy with the success we’ve been able to show so quickly towards distinguishing the important sleep stages. This was step 1 in creating the new lucid dream induction device - an algorithm validated by a reputable sleep clinic. Step 2 was turning the results of that algorithm into light and sound output by the device during dreams for the purposes of lucid dream (LD) induction.
We do not have enough data yet to comment on the efficacy of specific light and sound combinations for LD induction- we are just beginning to scratch the surface in that domain. Luckily, our product has enough flexibility to allow for infinite optimization of light and sound cues. As for lucid dream induction…
To collect data in our latest internal experiment we have been careful to control the environment of the dreamer much more than we ever have before (including background light and sound levels). All nights during which the experiment conditions did not meet a rigorous standard of control, i.e. if sleep was interrupted for unforeseen reasons, the software or hardware encountered hiccups or other various reasons including a crying baby or ringing telephone, etc., were excluded from analysis.
The best scientific research only uses tightly controlled experiment conditions and we only wanted to use extremely well-controlled data that would hold up to a rigorous scientific standard in our analysis - even when it lowered our overall result. As you may know by know, we think science is pretty cool and we wouldn't want to present our results in any other way :)
We included 12 nights of data in our most recent analysis. For each night, one of four males between the ages of 27-29 wore the headband - outfitted with our latest EEG amp and sleep stage algorithm - to sleep. During half of the nights the headband was programmed randomly in either a passive mode (control group - light/sound stim did not occur), or active trigger mode (treatment group - light/sound stim did occur).
The treatment group recalled lucid dreams with 50% frequency - that is - in half of the recorded nights the subject recalled at least one LD in the morning. Reported LD experiences included flying, deep sea exploration, living out action movies and deep personal meditation experiences. The control group did not recall any lucid dreams. These results show that the device is an efficient aid for improving lucid dream frequency, however with such a small test group it is difficult to draw significant scientific conclusions.
The last sentence is why we chose kickstarter. We want you guys to be our next test group so that we can learn what works best for everyone. More than any other team out there we have all the necessary skills to create the solution you all have been waiting for- it will just take a little more time to get there. Thanks for supporting us and helping us get this far!
For more see our blog post on the Science of Lucid Dream Induction:
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