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MIT Develops Experimental Wearable Hand Device Called “Dormio” Capable of Dream Control

September 1, 2020

Scientists at the MIT “Dream Lab” have developed an experimental electronic wearable device called “Dormio,” that will get people closer to controlling their dream content during the onset of sleep, in a semi-lucid zone.

MIT Develops Experimental Smart Glove Device Called “Dormio” Capable of Dream Control

Dormio is equipped with sensors wrapped around the user’s wrist and fingers. The device tracks muscle tone, heart rate, and skin conductance to identify stages of sleep. A neurochemical transformation takes place between wake and sleep called the hypnagogic state. When the user slips into hypnagogia, an audio cue plays repeating a word to influence a user’s dream content.

In a study of 50 participants tested, many subjects dreams were theme enhanced by wearing Dormio. The device works while paired with a cell phone app that works on both ios and android devices.

MIT's Dream Lab: Dormio dream hacking device words during sleep onset, of hypnagogia, a semi-lucid sleep state where dreaming begins. Credit:Oscar Rosello

Hypnagogia shares many of the fluid, dream-like sensations of REM sleep, but with an important difference: people can still hear and process audio during this in-between state as they transition from being awake to being asleep. Only about one percent of people are capable of entering this state regularly, making it difficult to study.

The Dream Lab believes information processing during sleep can be engineered from the outside, what researchers term as ‘targeted dream incubation’ (TDI) which could serve therapeutic purposes, or strengthen a user’s memory. The Dream Lab, founded in 2017 is a subdivision of the world-renowned Media Lab, which has been an epicenter for creativity where brilliant minds intersect advancing technologies to improve and transform the human experience.

MIT Media Lab complex at night - photo by Andy Ryan
“Dreaming is really just thinking at night,” Adam Horowitz, a PhD student at MIT and a Dream Lab researcher, told OneZero. “When you go inside, you come out different in the morning. But we have not been asking questions about the experience of that transformation of information or the thoughts that guide it.

The tech behind “Dormio” was made possible by the Media Lab team, including; Ishaan Grover, Pedro Reynolds-Cuéllar, Adam Haar Horowitz, Aby Jain, Tomás Vega, Oscar Rosello, and advice from mentors including Professors Pattie Maes, Ed Pace-Schott, and Robert Stickgold.

Researchers say their Dormio system and dream incubation protocol could be used for various sleep based therapies or as a tool to enhance creativity and problem-solving, by influencing subjects in a sub-conscious manner.

Using Dormio you fall asleep as you normally would, but the transition into stage 2 sleep is tracked and interrupted. This suspends you in a semi-lucid state where microdreams are inceptable, allowing direction of your dreams. Credit: Oscar Rosello

The technology that drives Dormio is an open source which means the software for bio-signal tracking is on Github. Tomás Vega, who led the glove’s build, wrote a step-by-step guide on how to build this device yourself here if you're a genius.

To learn more about Dormio visit here.

Though the Dormio device is still a prototype in development, the experimental results suggest the device may bring humans one step closer to achieving dream control.

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