By Bill Murphy Science Correspondent © 2013
There are researchers exploring the question that two way communications from within dreams are possible. In my interview with Daniel Oldis, one of the pioneers in this niche of lucid dream research, he shared that he has been working for many years to establish a communication protocol to allow signals to be sent and received by separate parties using external cues. It has been stipulated that dreamers can be influenced by environmental factors, and his work takes advantage of that.
Mr. Oldis and his collaborator, Sean Oliver, presented a synopsis of their work at the 2012 International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) Conference in Berkeley, CA. They hypothesized that one dreamers signal can become another dreamers cue to respond. Using consumer grade electroencephalograms (EEG) connected to computers, Mr. Oldis, a computer consultant, wrote software that interprets brainwave activity detected by the EEG that is associated with specific eye movement. One dreamer, wearing the EEG and lucid, moves their eyes in a predetermined pattern that is recognized by the EEG and the software triggers the computer to send a signal over the internet to turn on a red light near the second dreamer.
The second dreamer will detect the red glow through their closed eyes while sleeping. If the second dreamer is lucid, then correct eye movement from that person in response will be detected by their EEG, and result in a red light being turned on near dreamer one through their internet connection. Viola! Two way communications has been established.
Although the elegant simplicity of the experiment doesn‘t resemble the fantastic mutual lucid dream scenes depicted in the science fiction movie Inception, it‘s a first step in using technology to make shared dreams possible. It should be noted that the red glow detected by a dreamer may be interpreted in a number of ways, so lucidity is needed to realize it‘s the red light signal being sent from the other dream participant.
The software Mr. Oldis wrote is utilized on http://www.sleepstreamonline.com/ and uses one of several consumer EEG‘s that have been introduced into the market. Others have now followed his path using different manufacturers EEG‘s and are encouraging the development of open source software such as what you can find here: http://lucidcode.com/.
The hardware hacker communities are doing their part and posting instructions on modifying EEG‘s to benefit the dream researcher. The ability to hack into dreams could someday be a reality. Currently, the four steps to enable an exchange of information during synchronized lucid dreams according to Mr. Oldis are as follows:
- Rapid Eye Movement (REM) detection.
- Cueing the dreamer with sensory stimulation.
- Dreamer to dreamer communication.
- Recording the data for verification
Mr. Oldis offered insight into where he envisions this effort may eventually lead. By accumulating and analyzing the data from many dreamers, ‘dream trends’ could hopefully be identified. This is fertile new ground and could be a new type of networking with unexpected results. Spotting trends within dreams could lead to tapping into the global unconscious mind. Perhaps a world community linked by their unconscious thoughts and feelings could reveal certain shared truths that traditional social constraints have kept silent.
Robert Waggoner has included several pages about the work and experiences of Daniel Oldis in his book, Lucid Dreaming, Gateway to the Inner Self.