Dream Lab


Inventing Sleep Interfaces at the MIT Media Lab

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our dream is a future where dreams are controllable. These are our steps in that direction: a compilation of prototypes, projects and futures we envision. 

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A programable dream machine

Cocoon is a programmable dream machine enabled by the synthesis of work-in-progress at the Fluid Interfaces Lab. As a dreamer descends into sleep, Cocoon tracks three sleep-stages using brain activity, muscle tension, heart rate, and movement data that are revealed through its dome. Cocoon uses ongoing platforms we developed including Open Sleep , Fluid BCI  and Rem Mask to facilitate sleep stage detection. External stimuli in the form of scent, audio and muscle stimulation direct the content of the dreams. We use Dormio to detect the state between sleep and wake (Hypnagogia), influencing visual and idea generation using audio. We use Essence to alter the emotional content of dreams and memory consolidation during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Deep Sleep. We use Electronight to administer muscle stimulation to arms and legs and change the kinesthetic content of dreams. Crossing boundaries both disciplinary and experiential, Cocoon offers an embodied investigation of one’s own consciousness, a philosophy in the flesh: With it users can observe and engage the torsion of their senses, see and shape dreams which are otherwise entirely uncontrollable, unlinked, and unseen. Watch >



A hand INTERFACE for sleep stage detection

Sleep is a forgotten country of the mind: A vast majority of our technologies are built for our waking state, even though a third of our lives are spent asleep. Dormio interfaces with Hypnagogia, the state of consciousness between wake and sleep where we dream before falling fully unconscious. We track sleep stage using Heart Rate Variability, Muscle Tone and Electrodermal Activity, sending real-time stage information out to actuators which influence and extend early stage dreams. More >

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Conformable eeg, EOG, EMG

The Facepad is a conformable, flexible circuit built for tracking brain and biosignals on the face. Electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG) and electrooculography (EOG) are collected, filtered and analyzed to interpret brain states, facial expression and eye movement. The Facepad is a high density form factor for extracting more information from sleeping subjects.



A programable scent actuator

Essence is an olfactory wearable that can release scent based on brain activity, heart rate and electro dermal activity. It can be used during sleep to affect dream content, such as changing the emotional tone of the dream or improve sleep quality. Essence can also be used for targeted memory reactivation; releasing scent during wakefulness and replay during sleep to cue learning. More >



A microdream recorder

The Nightorb is work-in-progress for an actuator for Hypnagogic dream direction, using audio to incept thoughts in early stage sleep. We modernize the steel ball napping technique used by Edison, Dalí and Tesla to generate insights, tracking and interrupting sleep stage transitions. Nightorb enables extension, direction and capture of audio dream content, augmenting creativity by allowing access to fluid thinking present in interstitial semi-consciousness and dreams.



A wearable brain computer interface board

A meaner, leaner, smaller, printed circuit board for wearable Brain Computer Interface applications. This board takes in information about heart rate, electrodermal skin response, eye movements and EEG activity, allowing for real time tracking of brainwave activity and facial movements without the cost and bulk of traditional PCB's. This new form factor opens up applications for tracking brain and biosignals outside of the neuroscience laboratory, including sensors in virtual reality, augmented reality and sleep masks. 

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Open Sleep

An open-source APP for sleep tracking

OpenSleep is a dedicated interface for biometric signal tracking and sleep stage interfacing. Using OpenSleep, users can see specific biosignals, which are streamed in real-time. Customizable thresholds tie distinct actuations to each of these tracked signals. We are currently working on OpenSleep to loop sleep staging information with the audio, smell and electrical muscle stimulation used to interface with each specific stage.



A FLEXIBLE sleepmask for rem detection

Low-cost, low-power, hardware for REM detection outside of the sleep laboratory. Masca adapts to the human body, using piezoresistive technology, we aim to detect eye lid motion using a comfortable, affordable device for sleep staging and actuation. Mentation in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, specifically, is crucial for long-term-potentiation of learning and memory. Tracking and influencing of REM sleep mentation opens up doors to augmentation of memory and learning: a future in which the content and consolidation of cognition in sleep is rendered controllable by wearable electronics. More >



a muscle stimulation kit for sleep 

We propose a modular system for muscle actuation in sleep to control kinesthetic content of dreams. Composed of conductive fabric for targeting specific muscle groups, this integrated REM detection and actuation interface will enable a range of applications including memory augmentation, motor learning amplification, lucid dream provocation, dream recall increase, and quantified self for wellbeing. More >

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The Dream Lab is an initiative from the Fluid Interfaces Group at the MIT Media Lab.
Contact us for more information.