Are we really entering the realms of science-fiction?
A team of researchers at MIT have developed a system that they claim, can directly influence the dreams you have just before you fall into a deep sleep.
According to the team, they were able to subconsciously insert words into their test subject’s minds and as a result they then dreamed about those words.
If this all sounds a bit far-fetched then stick with it because actually how it works is remarkable clever.
The system is called Dormio and consists of a highly sensitive sleep tracking glove and then a robot which sits on your bedside table.
The user wears the glove and proceeds to fall asleep, in the process of falling asleep they will then enter a semi-lucid state known as Hypnagogia.
This is the state just before a person enters deep sleep and it’s during this period that you can dream.
Once the tracking glove recognises that the user has entered Hypnagogia the robot then starts to play an audio cue at a very low volume e.g. the word rabbit.
In their testing the team then found that once the user had woken up they had indeed dreamed about the audio cue that was played to them.
Now while this a form of lucid dreaming it’s not a form of lucid dreaming where you can actually control your actions and then self-determine how you behave in your dream. Instead this can only influence the topic of the dream.
Why do it? Well aside from the simple pleasure of being able to actually customise your dreams, project lead Adam Haar Horowitz believes there’s a more important goal here.
“I find the idea that there is a state of mind which composes and constructs my conscious self, but remains inaccessible to me, both frustrating and alluring.” he explains.
“Hypnagogia is a “me” that I am unfamiliar with, a “me” that slips past memory as we drift into unconsciousness. Good neuroscience, to me, is effective self-examination. Good technology in service of making neuroscience relevant outside the laboratory, then, should facilitate self-examination.”
For the moment Dormio is still in the prototype stages but its development is completely open source so anyone who has the skills can download the schematics and create their own version of the sleep-tracking glove.