Lucid dreaming with the Circuit Playground Express #CircuitPlaygroundExpress

Stephan LeBarge and the Lucidy Institute were pioneers in developing devices to aid lucid dream induction and they were best placed for this because of the wider remit of the Lucidity Institute’s study of dreaming and the number of practicing lucid dreamers to test and develop hardware with. The DreamLight mask was developed in the early 90’s, not many of these were made available and they were very expensive.

The basic principle of these devices was to detect eye movement using IR and then cueing the user with a colour LED that would flash at set intervals, these flashes would be visible to a wearer within a dream state. This biofeedback mechanism had been proven to work with DreamLight and I’d argue that these masks, despite being nearly 30 years old, have never really been improved upon. There have been products that detect REM using brainwaves and there’s been some interesting studies recently that will no doubt lead to more of these – however to cue a user in a dream state, the best we’ve got in terms of biofeedback is still signalling via light, so I feel eye movement detection is still a more efficient and cost-effective approach given that you’ll still need some kind of hardware over the eye.

This one uses the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express, which has 10 RGB NeoPixels, and these can be used to cue a wearer in a REM state. These can be programmed in a number of ways but I’ve kept the Rainbow Cycle that is part of the initial example code file that comes with the OS when you install it – it’s pretty cool. Most other devices just use a standard red LED as they’re the cheapest you can get and the thought that most light appears red when your eyes are closed given the blood vessels it passes through but I can definitely perceive variations in colour with the NeoPixels. The way I’ve placed the board on the mask means that the light is scattered indirectly rather than straight towards your retina as well – if I find this not to be effective I can just cut more of the mask and expose the NeoPixels more.

See the video below and the article here.


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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

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