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Credit: Oscar Rosello

Researchers at MIT’s Dream Lab Are Hacking the Dreams

Humans and a series of other species are prone to dream while sleeping, and even now we don’t fully know why.

While few may think dreaming is some uncontrolled rearrangement of memories, at MIT’s Dream Lab a team of researchers thinks otherwise and is creating technologies capable of governing the subconscious to prove the value of dreams.

“People don’t know that a third of their life is a third where they could change, structure or better themselves,” Adam Horowitz, a Ph.D. student at MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group and a Dream Lab researcher, told OneZero.

“Whether you’re talking about memory augmentation, creativity augmentation, improving mood the next day, or improving test performance, there are all these things you can do at night that are practically important,” Horowitz added.


Dream Lab’s team developed a glove-like device called Dormio, outfitted with a host of sensors that can detect the sleeping state the wearer is in. When the user slips into hypnagogia, a limbo between conscious and subconscious, the glove plays a pre-recorded audio file, most of the time consisting of one word.

In a 50-person experiment, the speaking glove was able to insert a tiger into people’s sleep by having the glove repeat a prerecorded message that simply said “tiger”.

Although the guiding principle behind Dormio isn’t new, (personalities such as Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Salvador Dalí are said to have taken naps with a steel ball in hand in order to wake during the hypnagogic state when the ball dropped to the ground), the groundbreaking feature of this device is the standardization and democratization of sleep tracking technologies, since step-by-step instructions were posted online along also a biosignal tracking software released on Github, allowing everyone to theoretically make their own Dormio glove.

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Find more about this fascinating subject on MIT Media Lab.

Article by Giacomo Sserwadda

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