At first glance, SleepPhones don’t appear to be anything special. To be honest, we almost walked straight past the booth at CES because the name suggests that they’re little more than a pair of soft headphones that you can wear while you sleep. Whoopity-doo, right?
Well as it turns out, these things have a lot more going on under the hood than we first realized. In addition to the slim, flexible speakers (which is are impressive by themselves), SleepPhones are also equipped with a small Bluetooth transceiver and a set of accelerometers. This means that the headphone band can connect wirelessly to your smartphone, and also keep track of your movements while you sleep.
AcousticSheep, the company behind SleepPhones, touts the product as a solution to bad sleep, and suggests that it can improve the quality of your rest each night with music — which may very well be true — but hidden inside the app is a truly unique function: the ability to induce lucid dreams.
Strangely, this isn’t something that the AcousticSheep advertises. The brains of the operation, Dr. Wei-Shin Lai, didn’t even mention it to us until we asked about it — but the functionality is totally there.
Here’s how it works. Once you’ve strapped them on your head and conked out, SleepPhones use a set of accelerometers to track your movement while you sleep. Generally speaking, when you’re in REM sleep, you don’t move around at all. So after it learns your sleep patterns, the headband can make an educated guess on when you’re in a deep, dream-filled sleep state, and then switch on some music. The idea is that you’ll be able to hear this music in your dream, realize you’re dreaming, and go lucid — just like Inception.
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It’s certainly not the first gizmo designed to help you lucid dream, but the accelerometer/headphones approach has the potential to be far more effective than anything we’ve seen before. We haven’t gotten a chance to take it for a spin quite yet, but we definitely plan to — so keep an eye out for our hands-on review in the next couple weeks.