Make Magazine: Make Your Own Dream Incubator

Abhinandan Jain

WHAT: The Dormio V3 is the newest in a series of wearable devices we’re making which help you track certain stages of your sleep and stimulate yourself with sound or smell to change your dreams in real time. We will make it together in this tutorial!

The Dormio V3 is a hand-worn device that tracks changes in three biosignals: heart rate, skin conductance (electrodermal activity or EDA), and finger muscle flexion. Changes in these signals indicate the onset of sleep, when there is a window of opportunity to play audio that will influence your dreams. Dormio broadcasts these three changing signals via Bluetooth to a web interface which detects sleep onset and plays audio during this special window of opportunity. It uses an nRF52832 Bluetooth microcontroller, so we can use Adafruit’s Bluefruit Feather BLE ecosystem to program it.
WHY: For decades it was accepted scientific fact that while we sleep our brains are turned off and we’re not processing sight, sound, or smell. Instead, new evidence suggests our brain is not turned off in sleep at all — in fact many parts are more active than when we’re awake, as they work to process memories from the day, restore cognitive function by clearing the brain’s cellular waste products, and prepare for the next day by simulating possible future scenarios. We are conscious, dreaming, for most of the night, and our brain is still processing sound, sight, and smell enough that each of these sensory inputs can reliably alter people’s dreams.

Even cooler, what we dream about changes how we think in the day. Our dream emotions carry over into our daytime emotions. Dreaming about something specific is tied to improved memory of that thing in the morning. Dreams can even augment creativity! That means dreams, with the right interface to influence them in targeted ways, can be a route to alter and improve your thinking.

WHO: You! Anyone and everyone can be a dream hacker. Even if you think you don’t remember your dreams, this Dormio device will likely be a blast. People who typically forget their dreams can often remember them in hypnagogia. Targeted dream incubation using Dormio is aimed at this early sleep stage, at night or in daytime naps, and wakes people directly during their dreams, so we especially encourage you to try this if you typically can’t remember dreams or you think your dreams are boring. We bet you’ll find some weird stuff in your head if you give it a go!

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