The art of lucid dreaming has arguably been around for thousands of years. The science of lucid dreaming has been explored during the last fifty years, revealing some of its hidden potential in overcoming fears, nightmares, and stimulating creativity and problem solving. There are many different methods to induce a state of lucid dreaming. Some are able to achieve it through wake induced (or wake initiated) lucid dreaming, while others are able to employ techniques that allow them to achieve dream induced (or dream initiated) lucid dreaming.
Active practitioners of lucid dreaming and co-founders of Bitbanger Labs, Duncan Frazier and Steve McGuigan have come up with a solution to help people become lucid dreamers. Remee is a lucid dreaming mask developed by Bitbanger Labs that provides recognizable external input into your dreams. So with out having to develop reality check tasks to perform routinely or using wake induced techniques that can lead to entering a dream state directly from a waking state, Remee is able to help you recognize that you are dreaming. When you are able to do that within a dream state, you are able to achieve lucid dreaming.
“In default mode, Remee targets these long chunks of REM sleep towards the end of the sleep period. Before bed, turn Remee on, fine tune the brightness of the lights (if needed) and then go to sleep. Remee will wait for an initial long delay, usually 4-5 hours, until you’re in the heart of the heavy REM stages, before initializing light patterns. After the initial long delay Remee will display light patterns for 15-20 seconds with a second shorter delay, default at 15 minutes, between each signal. During non-REM sleep the lights are unlikely to effect you, but if you’re in REM sleep the lights will bleed into your dreams, presenting a perfect chance to become lucid.” -Bitbanger Labs
I was able to chat with Duncan and Steve about what lucid dreaming means to them as well as their creativity and inventiveness.
Ari: When did each of you become interested in technology and gadgetry?
Steve: I think it’s fair to say we’ve both been technologically inclined for most of our lives. When I was 10 I found a TrueBASIC program in the back of a math text book and a copied it line for line onto my old Amstrad PC512. Ever since then I’ve been fascinated with the way humans interact with tech.
Duncan: I started building stuff, particularly photography tools, out of need – but it soon developed into a passion.
Ari: When did you become interested in the concept of lucid dreaming?
Duncan & Steve: Lucid dreaming is something we’ve both been doing since before we knew there was a name for it. Although we’ve known each other for 15 years, we’d never had a conversation about lucid dreaming until a year ago on a camping trip when it came up in passing and we realized it was something we both loved, were both interested in, and were both disappointed there weren’t many consumer products available for lucid dreamers, and that the ones which were available didn’t suit our needs.
Ari: How has lucid dreaming benefited you in your daily lives?
Steve: Apart from the fact that lucid dreaming is wildly entertaining, it can be useful as well. I personally used to lucid dreaming to address a mild phobia of public speaking that I’ve had my entire life. Being able to practice public speaking in a consequence-free environment was incredibly beneficial.
Duncan: If you’re familiar with Radiolab on WNYC, there was a short segment on lucid dreaming in february about a man who had experienced a recurring nightmare for 20 years and practiced lucid dreaming until he was able to confront his dream assailant and end the cycle. Very interesting stuff!
Ari: Do you keep dream journals? and can you share any interesting ones?
Steve: Dream journaling in an impactful way is a huge commitment that not everyone can keep. I was spotty with it so I transitioned to keeping an Audio journal that i transcribed later. I’ve found that it works better for me because stream of consciousness word dump into my iPhone voice recorder is easier than being limited by how fast I can write laying down first thing in the morning.
Ari: What inspires each of you creatively? and besides Remee, what have been your favorite projects to work on?
Steve: We ran a small t-shirt company out of Duncan’s warehouse space in Kensington, Philadelphia some years back. It was an extremely entertaining but not particularly lucrative venture.
Duncan: I’m always hacking away at something. We’ve got a pretty exciting follow up project in the pipeline.
Ari: As a photographer, Duncan, what are your favorite tools of the trade?
Duncan: I specialize in timelapse, so I’m at home with any camera that I can hook an intervalometer up to, after that a sturdy tripod and patience are my two biggest assets. Of course it can’t hurt to have a good set of prime lenses. A clinometer and sun chart are invaluable so you can predict where the sun will be at any given time is always good, and heavy 6 or 10 stop Neutral Density filters let you get creative with extra long daytime exposures.
Ari: Duncan, how do you merge your photography skills with your coding skills and on what projects have you accomplished this?
Duncan: I began coding and building thing because I wanted to take my photography/timelapse work to the next level. The very first rig I built was an automated pan and tilt head for doing moves while shooting timelapse. It was quite the education on gear ratios, mechanical engineering and coding a usable piece of software. After that first rig I was hooked, and proceeded to build a timelapse slider, a macro slide table and various other rigs. Currently I’m exploring the world of LEDs and how they can be used in photography to make amazing images, but thats a future project, so we can’t talk too much about it.
Ari: Steve, should hobbyists take the time to learn coding languages or do you think you should only take on learning a coding language if you plan on being a programmer?
Steve: Absolutely! Programming is really one of the most useful technical skills to have. Anyone who loves gadgets and tech in general would be well served to learning even just the basics of writing software. Arduino/Processing is definitely a wonderful and simple introduction into the world of creating tech of your own. The internet is bursting at the seams with free information on how to get started with this kind of stuff.
Ari: How have your coding skills influenced your design work, Steve? Have you ever had to redesign something because it wasn’t possible to code the function or vice versa?
Steve: In our experience, ambitious design leads to better and more adventurous code. It’s easier to design something outrageous and worry about whether it’s possible later. If you confine yourself to the box of what you’re comfortable coding, innovation will stagnate.
Ari: What advice do you have for other techies into building and inventing new products?
Duncan & Steve: Ask yourself three questions: “Is this something people would want?”, “How can I produce it efficiently?”, and “How can I bring it to them?” Plenty of projects are unsuccessful because one or more of these questions weren’t considered. The first one is obvious, but the other two are often lost in the excitement of answering yes to the first.
The Remee Kickstarter campaign has already surpassed $300,000 with many people interested in this innovative way to achieve a practice that has been around for thousands of years. There is still time to contribute to the campaign and be among the first to try the new lucid dreaming mask. You can find out all about Remee and how it works by visiting their kickstarter page.