I happened upon a group of dreamers, 2600 strong, that had fallen for the LUCI KickStarter campaign
. A company called GXP Technologies was selling a headband with a sensor that they claimed could detect REM sleep and trigger a recorded message stating: “You are dreaming, take control” to induce lucid dreams 80% of the time. I could tell that it was a scam the first time I looked at it, since it is pretty close to what I have been working on for the last decade…
As evidenced by the collection of Lucid Scribe plugins that connect to third-party hardware, I would have been among the most excited if it had been a legitimate product. But their EEG didn’t complete a circuit, their induction percentage was unheard of, their amp was orders of magnitude out of the range of brainwaves and – what ultimately exposed it as a scam to the masses: the images of their prototype were created in Photoshop.
I reported it to KickStarter right away, but they didn’t do as much as acknowledge my report. I couldn’t sleep during the last weekend of the campaign as they were about to coin half a million dollars while making a mockery of lucid dreaming research. So as a last resort I backed the campaign in order to post my findings as a comment.
I then witnessed what appeared to be a P300 event-related potential in the attitude of the crowd. On a much slower scale, of course, but similar to what happens in the brain when you recognize something. I have been keeping my eyes out for P300 waves, as I hope to one day find that the onset of lucidity, or the recognition of the dream state, produces such a wave.
Here is some interesting research that was done at the Usenix Security conference:
The researchers designed a program that flashes up pictures of maps, banks, and card PINs, and makes a note every time your brain experiences a P300. Afterwards, it’s easy to pore through the data and work out, with fairly good accuracy – where a person banks, where they live, and so on.
And DARPA used the P300 event to recognize threats. They showed users ten images per second (of desert terrain, for example) and noted which images triggered a P300 – 91% of the time it was because there was a threat in the image that the person might not have consciously recognized.
So I tried my hand at measuring and graphing the “brainwaves” of the crowd. I wrote a script to flip the comments so they appear in order and measured and weighed each comment as either positive (excitatory) or negative (inhibitory). If we pretend that each backer is a brain cell and each comment is a neurotransmitter, then we can plot an electroencephalograph of the crowd.
The printout featured above shows the amount of positive (blue) and negative (red) comments per hour over the last 100 hours of the campaign, with the inhibitory comments peaking at -120. Not as close to what an event-related potential looks like as I expected to find, but interesting nonetheless and entertaining at the least.
The campaign was cancelled after enough people reported it and it was covered in the Wall Street Journal, Crowdfund Insider and pandodaily. Shout out to the bodhisattvas Manoka, Majid, Yeti, Sascha and Mr. Brand for staying behind and waking up the others! And special thanks to Highlander over at the DreamViews forum for sleuthing the name of the amp.
Download entry as Lucid Scribe Data (LSD) or Comma Separated Values (CSV).