Communicating from inside your dreams

Over the last few years, [Michael] has been working on the Lucid Scribe project, an online sleep research database to document lucid dreams. This project uses a combination of hardware and software to record rapid eye movements while sleeping. Not only is [Michael] able to get his computer to play music when he starts dreaming (thus allowing him to recognize he’s in a dream), he can also communicate from within a dream by blinking his eyes in Morse code.

According to the Lucid Scribe blog, [Michael] and other researchers in the Lucid Scribe project have developed motion-sensing hardware capable of detecting heartbeats. This equipment is also sensitive enough to detect the Rapid Eye Movements associated with dreaming. This hardware feeds data into the Lucid Scribe app and detects when [Michael] is dreaming. Apparently, [Michael] has been practicing his lucid dreaming; he’s actually been able to move his eyes while dreaming to blink our Morse code. The first message from the dreamworld was, of course, “first post”. [Michael] used ‘first post’ to debug his system, but he has managed to blink ‘S’ from a dream. That should improve after he works on his Morse and lucid dreaming skills.

You may now begin referencing Inception in the comments.

69 thoughts on “Communicating from inside your dreams

  1. Thanks Brian! The “first post” message, I’m afraid, is just my replacement “hello world” debug text, inspired by XKCD/269. All that I have managed to blink from within a dream thus far is the letter “S”, as neither my Morse-coding nor lucid dreaming is proficient enough… hence all the hacking!

    1. Not yet… but I will consider writing a plugin for Lucid Scribe to do that. All that it can do right now is play audio tracks into my dreams, and they have to be very quiet and subtle or else I wake up.

      Speaking of which, anyone can download Lucid Scribe and write a plugin for their own hardware (or ask me to!) and then right-click on a log to export on LSDBase.

      1. This might be a while off but have you thought of playing a foreign language tape instead of music, then trying to learn that language while you dream? Do you think this would be possible?

  2. I found insomnia helps with Lucid Dreaming; longer periods of consciousness translates to a more Lucid Dream State.

    Never saw inception; only Leonardo I really care to like is Da Vinci.

  3. I have this project where I plan on communicating with myself in the future through wireless telegraphy… I can make lots of pretty graphs and such, and I can prove that parts of the idea are totally valid (the wireless telegraphy part)! Don’t mind the crackpot BS nature of the main thesis, just write it up as if it’s anything but and put it up on the blog for the masses to enjoy!

    1. The first evidence for lucid dreaming was produced in the late 1970s by British parapsychologist Keith Hearne. A volunteer named Alan Worsley used eye movement to signal the onset of lucidity, which were recorded by a polysomnograph machine.

      The first peer-reviewed article was published some years later by Stephen LaBerge at Stanford University, who had independently developed a similar technique as part of his doctoral dissertation. During the 1980s, further scientific evidence to confirm the existence of lucid dreaming was produced as lucid dreamers were able to demonstrate to researchers that they were consciously aware of being in a dream state (again, primarily using eye movement signals). Additionally, techniques were developed that have been experimentally proven to enhance the likelihood of achieving this state.

      1. Lucid dreams definitely exist, I’ve had several in my life. I’m not against you exploring this interest and sharing your results with the world, that’s fantastic (even if I think it is misguided). It’s up to blog aggregators such as HAD to do their best not to become rapid believers when the science behind an idea is lacking. I question your thesis, that is, I don’t think that you will be able to successfully communicate from within a dream by blinking your eyes (I don’t claim this as an expert opinion) , I also don’t think that Lucid dreams can be reliably triggered. That “S” you blinked in your sleep is almost certainly nothing more than an anomaly. I’m sure that environmental factors come into play, and perhaps this interest in Lucid dreaming will consume your life enough to lead you onto the path of conducting important brain research, but this project is more science fiction than science.

    2. Thanks for the feedback and questioning my thesis. I appreciate the challenge. I assure you that the “S” that I blinked was consciously written. I distinctly remember the dream – I didn’t just see three “dots” in the logs and assume… there are probably dozens of random letters from my rapid eye movements if you don’t consider coherence.

      I can totally agree on the challenges of triggering lucid dreams! I wrote the first version of Lightened Dream, a dream journal that I designed for lucid dreaming, over a decade ago. And have slept with wires coming out of my ears for hundreds of nights. Yet here I am… still working on improving the reliability.

      But I hope to write some articles on my findings. I have exchanged emails with an editor from one of the journals, and he said they would be happy to publish at the very least my finding that REM sleep can be detected by accelerometers. And that may just be the start. In the meantime you are welcome to download the raw data of any session – all logs are freely available. Or watch some of the videos… I trust you will see that there is more going on than science fiction and pretty graphs.

    3. This kills the dream. Imagine using this in a game of Quake – the world would spin out of control! And the software can’t detect the direction of the movement – only the momentum.

      But I like the idea! Just yesterday someone suggested a grid as follows. Blinks would be used to select letters and you would move your eyes to navigate. A QWERTY layout could work even better.
      STU VWX YZ.

    1. Thanks… that is very interesting! I have read the article before; they did use wrist clenches to communicate, but only as a signal that they were lucid – not to communicate a message in Morse Code. And they also used eye movements as a signal for lucidity – that was the original proof that made lucid dreaming acceptable to science.

      My educated guess is that it was caused by an increase in blood pressure due to your physiological response to the nature of the dream.

    2. Correction: I just re-read the article and they did manage to send the Morse Code for “S” and “L”. They found that the amplitude of the twitches bore an unreliable relationship to the subjective intensity of the dreamed action (fist clenches). Very interesting indeed!

  4. I’m glad negative comments pointing out how absolutely ridiculous the “science” behind this project are get removed promptly by HAD. Way to censor the crap out of the site guys. I’ll look forward to an article on e-meters next week…

    1. I guarantee I haven’t removed any posts pointing out the bad science. I only remove comments if they are offensive or threatening or don’t adhere to our policy. I’d welcome the discourse. I’m searching now to see if it went to spam for some reason.

    1. I was awake in this session – just practicing some Morse Code and testing the code. Virtually all other sessions in the database so far were recorded during sleep, which you can verify by downloading the raw data and counting the sheer number of heartbeats. If anyone can donate an EEG device, I will be more than happy to wear it and promise to post the results.

      1. Xetxuna, I have written a plugin for the NeuroSky MindSet, so it shouldn’t take long to write one for the MindWave… Please let me know if you have one to test the code for me!

        Levi, I will do some more research on the Mindflex – but I don’t believe it gives access to the raw wave values.

  5. Sounds fantastical, yet as a long-time lucid dreamer, it does also seem possible. I’ve been able to control my breathing from a dream. Morse code and machine monitoring is something that never crossed my mind.

    But I question whether anything useful can be communicated using something as cumbersome as Morse Code, beyond what’s already been accomplished – triggering a wake-up.

    Although, sometimes I’m having a nice lucid dream, and hear and recognize my alarm in it without immediately waking up. Would be nice to blink out a code that triggers the snooze button. ;)

  6. What’s the hardware? I asked the guy when he commented on HaD the other day and also in a reddit thread. No reply. That’s what I’m interested in… Maybe I’m blind but I just can’t find any info or pics of the hardware.

    1. Just an accelerometer with a resolution of 3660µg and a measurement range of ±5g (49 m/s2) that I wrapped in a headband that I dubbed “halograph FM“. You can pre-order from here: I can’t make them commercially viable until I have 100 pre-orders (hint-hint, wink-wink, nudge-nudge).

      My sincerest apologies for missing your questions the other day. I will dig through all the threads that I am aware of and see if I can reply to you there as well.

      1. Thanks for the reply Michael. It’s quite pricey eh. Why not start a kickstarter project? Remee did well so I think this could really be big. Build in some flashy LEDs and it’s a Remee 3.0 ! That would allow you to build them en masse and hopefully pass the savings on to us! I’m interested for sure, but at $130 + international shipping, I’ll have to pass.

      2. I meant replies*. It’s good to have you on here answering all the Q’s.

        I was playing around with an LED and light dependent resistor clipped onto my finger. When outputting the raw numbers into a graph, you could quite clearly see the pulse. How hard would it be to take this approach and dump the data into your software instead?

    2. Thanks for the kickstarter idea, but I am confident that I will be able to make it on my own. Perhaps I can interest you in the scholar edition for $77?

      If you send me the code you have so far, I am sure I can paste it into a Lucid Scribe plug-in without breaking a sweat. And if you then share a few nights worth of data on LSDBase, someone may even be able to deduce when you are dreaming. And then I can update the plugin again to trigger the audio tracks.

  7. Lol. DIY Matrix, with blackjack and hookers and an awesome solid cad modeller, btw. Still, need a better interface, then morse code to TX more stuff from out there.

  8. “DIY Matrix, with blackjack and hookers…”

    “Yeah, well… I’m gonna go build my own theme park, with blackjack and hookers. In fact, forget the park!” –Bender

    1. “Do you think that’s beer you’re drinking?”

      Seriously, seems like we’re getting closer to a Transcortical Shunt with each passing day. (obgNorman Spinrad ref…)

  9. Can you (Michael) tell me how you detect rapid eye movements with headphones and can you describe your setup especially the hardware, I haven’t found further informations on your website regarding the hardware setup.

    1. That could work. In theory.

      One of the updates that I am currently working on for the Lucid Scribe project is a streaming feature that will allow users to remotely connect to a device that is broadcasting through the database.

      From there it isn’t much of a leap of imagination to connect two people that are in REM sleep at the same time…

  10. I approve of this. The best approach imo would be to encode letters with up/down/left/right as 1/2/4/8 and then move eyes to sum up the letter number. Blinks could be used to separate letters.

    Or create some tree.

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