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Geo Bell 28/2/2016
Dream Aid: LucidCatcher
Written By Geo Bell
Last Updated 26 March 2016
The project has been gaining momentum since it began in 2014, with press coverage being almost exclusive to the Russian & Ukranian media. In late February '16, I interviewed Luciding Co-founder Michael Skrychevsky to find out more about the development of LucidCatcher.
Read more: Lucid Source interviews Luciding Co-founder Michael Skrychevsky
*EEG (Electroencephalogram) is a method of recording electrical brain activity using sensors attached to the scalp.
Features & Specs
Detailed specifications for the LucidCatcher are, at the moment, very hush hush. Luciding are currently testing the device before unleashing it to public crowdfunding.
Unofficial diagram of expected LucidCatcher device layout. Original image copyright Luciding / LucidCatcher.com
What we do know:
Developers are currently testing preliminary devices which use EOG (tracking eye-movement activity) to detect REM sleep, with plans to develop an EEG module for the final version.
Will it work?
Taking the underlying theory into account, it's reasonable to predict that LucidCatcher will indeed aid lucidity, if the brains behind it can get the REM detection mechanism right. Whether or not the device can guarantee lucidity, is another matter. The efficacy of using tACS to induce lucid dreaming is supported by Voss' aforementioned study. Voss' methodology is unquestionably robust, and does indeed provide reliable evidence that tACS can facilitate self-awareness during dreams, but does not suggest that lucidity can be guaranteed using transcranial simulation. It's worth noting at this point, that neither Ursula Voss or her research team are affiliated with any DIY brain stimulation devices or companies.
For the dedicated oneironaut who is already adept at lucid dreaming, an additional boost of awareness could mean the difference between frequent, and nightly lucid dreams. Indeed, beginners would benefit greatly from increased dream awareness, which would improve dream recall, likelihood of achieving lucidity, and ability to think clearly.
EEG & REM detection
The release of brain stimulation dream gadgets in the aftermath of Voss' findings were an inevitability; but are, understandably, anything but identical to the equipment and methodology that researchers may use in a sleep laboratory (foc.us Lucid Dream Kit is another example). Exactly how accurate the device will be at detecting REM sleep, will become clear following independent trials. As of Feb 2016, developers at Luciding are currently testing preliminary devices which use EOG to detect REM sleep; with plans to develop an EEG module for the commercial device.
Of course, even the best personal EEG devices cannot monitor sleep stages to the same standard as professional polysomnography, such as that used in the sleep laboratory setting. This being said, complex sleep tracking algorithms used by modern consumer EEG devices boast a higher accuracy of REM detection than ever before. It will be interesting to see whether Luciding disclose any further information on the REM-detection algorithm adopted by their device.
tACS 40 Hz neurostimulation
Given that 40 Hz stimulation has been shown to facilitate awareness during dreams (in controlled settings), I'm hopeful, and admittedly, rather excited, that the engineers at Luciding can effectively apply such a mechanism in LucidCatcher. In an interview with Mr Skrychevsky, he assured me that with his device, anyone could experience lucidity from "the very first try". A rather bold claim to say the least, but a dream come true for oneironauts around the world be it so.
The location of the tACS electrodes in LucidCatcher appear to mirror the electrode set up used in Voss (2014).
UPDATE: After speaking with an official from Luciding, I can confirm that the headband will feature 4 tACS electrodes positioned as above, and 3 EEG sensors located over the forehead region.
Watch this space
If the LucidCatcher is able to;
(a) reliably detect REM sleep; and,
(b) safely facilitate awareness with 40 Hz stimulation to the prefrontal cortex, then all bets are off.
You can expect a full review once users get their hands on the device. For now, you can keep up to date with the development of LucidCatcher at the links below.