Geo Bell 25/9/2016
New Kid on the Block
Earlier this week, the latest lucid dreaming device to hit Kickstarter knocked its initial funding goal of €50,000 out the park. The new kid on the block, which has been getting a lot of attention since its announcement, is the iBand+ developed by Dutch company Arenar. You can view the project’s Kickstarter here, but to give a quick overview:
The iBand+ is a wireless EEG headband with built-in LEDs and sensors which measure body movement, heart rate and body temperature. The device connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone, and also comes with a pair of ‘pillow speakers’ which are designed to slip conveniently into, you guessed it, your pillow.
While the promise of aiding lucid dreaming forms a large part of its campaign (and I don’t doubt that the overwhelming majority of backers came for exactly this), developers have also placed a great deal of emphasis on the iBand+’s ability to 'improve sleep'.
Arenar CEO Samir Raut says that the iBand+ "is not a passive tracker. It is an active sleep and dreams inducer that monitors and analyzes information on your brain and body throughout the sleep cycle and accurately generates audio-visual sensory stimuli to help you sleep and dream. We truly believe that iBand+ will help enhance people’s quality of life.”
Do I Smell a Little Competition?
Please note that I have no affiliation with or preferences toward either iWinks or their upcoming competitor Arenar. This is my unbiased commentary.
Upon iBand+’s announcement, my initial thoughts were;
a) This looks a little similar to another Kickstarter from 2013. Come on, you know the one. And,
b) Given that we’re still waiting for the Aurora Dreamband to be released (latest estimate: Q1/2 2017), are people really going to part with their cash this time around?
Well, apparently so! Having raised over €70,000 with 31 days left of its campaign, support for this wearable is showing no signs of slowing down.
As of right now, I have mixed feelings about the whole situation. On one hand, I’m hopeful that a competent team of professionals could develop and make widely available, an electronic device helpful in aiding lucid dream induction. (This said, I’ve based my assumptions on (now ancient) trials conducted by The Lucidity Institute, into the efficacy of the NovaDreamer device, which is conceptually similar to the Aurora Dreamband and the iBand+, minus EEG technology and some other things.)
Secondly, the team behind the project appear to be both experts in their respective fields, and also pretty nice people, which is always reassuring.
On the other hand, my deep dark fear is that oneironauts may once again be let down by yet another crowdfunder. This, I feel, is not completely unjustified, given the mass disappointment over Remee, the state of the comments section on the Aurora Dreamband Kickstarter, and I won’t even get into the whole ‘LUCI’ fiasco.
If I’m coming across as too critical towards the Aurora Dreamband, this is not my intention. I was actually quite excited when I first heard about it. I did not preorder a device simply because I’ve never needed anything other than good dream recall and technique to regularly enjoy lucid dreams. Still, if iWinks do deliver an effective, high quality device in the near-future, it will be fantastic news for the lucid dreaming community, and I hope this is the case.
However, it’s no lie that the team at iWinks have received some less than supportive feedback since their Kickstarter was first released in December 2013. While I can’t criticise the time and effort which iWinks must be putting into developing their product, it has been a long time, so I don’t blame backers for getting cold feet. I’m also not $300 out of pocket, else my opinion would, no doubt, be very different.
I asked the founders of Arenar how backers could be sure that they would not also be faced with such a delay, to which they replied;
"We have carefully planned our roadmap taking into consideration inputs from our entire team and aim to deliver iBand+ as planned."
Arenar have set an expected release date for the iBand+ of Summer 2017. Interestingly, this is in line with the latest release date given by iWinks for the Aurora Dreamband.
Here’s to ‘friendly' competition...
Interview with Samir and Purva Raut, Creators of iBand+
Q. The lucid dreaming community has seen several Kickstarters for lucid dreaming and sleep aids come and go, what is it that makes iBand+ special?
iBand+ is a EEG brain sensing and health tracking headband that tracks and analyzes the information about your brain and body to accurately recognize various sleep phases. iBand+ also uses natural audio-visual stimuli to induce lucid dreams.
Dreams occur when you are in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, and REM phases are prominent towards the end of our sleep cycle. In fact, your REM sleep increases when you get a better overall sleep! If you do not get enough deep sleep, then your body will try to make that up first at the expense of REM sleep. Thus DEEP SLEEP is in the first place most important factor to invoke dreams. The better you sleep, the easier you can lucid dream!
Having said that, unlike other lucid dreaming products out there, iBand+ is much more than just a lucid dream inducer. It is an active SLEEP IMPROVEMENT product that helps you SLEEP BETTER with music that intelligently adjusts to your sleep cycle. We employ a scientific approach of actively improving sleep first so as to effectively induce lucid dreams!
Q. Could you tell us more about the Health Tracking feature, and how that works?
The more you know about your body, the better you can take care of it! iBand+ is also your personal health tracker that enables you to monitor your health even while asleep! iBand+ conceals special health tracking sensors to measure body movement, heart rate and body temperature. This information about the body together with EEG information about the brain provides a glimpse into your physical and mental state that could disclose potential health and sleep problems.
Q. What kind of testing have you performed with prototypes thus far, and how promising are the results?
We have been testing iBand+ for past 5 months on 8 different subjects varying in gender, social status, mental/physical health conditions. We have received incredible reports from the users. The data collected from these tests have played a very important role in shaping the iBand+ algorithm until now to give the best possible outcome. We will also extend our testing and will release this product only after extensive tests of more than 8000 hours are satisfactorily completed. We are a team of people who are experts in their respective fields (electronics, software, manufacturing, etc.) and who have earlier worked on consumer electronic products that are used by people all around the world. With iBand+, we want to deliver you a world class product that will help you elevate your health and happiness through improved sleep and dreams!
Q. One thing which I found very interesting is the external pillow speakers. What’s the deal with that?
iBand+ helps you sleep easily in a natural way with sounds and music that calm your mind and trigger sleep. While the visual stimuli are generated via the LEDs on the headband the pillow speakers are used for audio signals. Use of any other speakers including that of a smartphone will not provide you as discreet sound as iBand+ pillow speakers. That could inadvertently wake you and your partner. Moreover, iBand+ pillow speakers are designed with a purpose to provide you superior, lifelike auditory experience while in bed. With the advanced auto-learning algorithm, iBand+ intelligently adjusts the music and the volume as you fall asleep. Once asleep, iBand+ turns off the music. It then gently introduces white noise that masks distractions and ensures a sound sleep.
Q. Ok so I’ve spoken about this before; as a community I feel that lucid dreamers have been somewhat let down in recent years, with various lucid dreaming devices not living up to expectations and so on.
Lucid dreaming is the most authentic Virtual Reality experience. It’s a process that you can learn effectively and enjoy, especially if you have a right technology to help you. As mentioned earlier iBand+ is an active sleep improvement product that helps you sleep better first so as to effectively induce lucid dreams! We are confident that it will do its job perfectly. It will help you to become lucid in a dream but the dreamer also has to put efforts in learning this art to stay lucid. iBand+ will work wonders with the people who can make the best out of it!
Q. Your Kickstarter states that we can expect a shipped product by July 2017. How can we be sure that the iBand will reach our pillows by next summer?
We have carefully planned our roadmap taking into consideration inputs from our entire team and aim to deliver iBand+ as planned.
Thanks to Samir and Purva for taking the time to answer my questions!