Dreams are fascinating personally, therapeutically, and scientifically. Who hasn't woken up in the morning and wondered how they came up with that wild story, and what it could reveal? But studying dreams is limited by the expensive technology used to track the sleep stages in which they occur. Masca is a flexible mask designed for easier, cheaper sleep stage detection. Our device is designed for eyelid motion detection, and adapts to the human body using conformable piezoresistive fabric and silicone to see the various physiological changes occurring as sleep states change without the need for wired amplifiers or sticky electrodes. Our vision is a democratized dream science, wherein people can try out all the laboratory protocols for lucid or therapeutic dreams in the comfort of their own home.
Eyes and eyelids change movement frequency predictably as sleep stage transitions occur—you can even try this at home, watching a friend or partner sleep, and you'll see an increase in their eye movement frequency when they hit the REM sleep stage. Trackers which are built for the eyes allow for a simpler, more portable system than the typical high-density EEG required for sleep tracking. This device is modeled after Prof. Robert Stickgold's Nightcap, who demonstrated you can track sleep stages with simple eye-worn sensors, and we are super grateful for his ongoing assistance with this project.
Engineering and Experimentation
Tracking and influencing of sleep cognition opens up doors to a future in which the consolidation of emotion, memory, and learning which happens in sleep is rendered controllable by wearable electronics. But first we have to know if Masca reliably tracks sleep stages! This device is a working prototype: We've only tested this device on a few people so far, and though results look promising, we'll wait to put those out publicly until we can publish in a peer-reviewed journal. For now, feel free to reach out to us with ideas, new strategies for sleep tracking, or if you want to run your own study using Masca and need a prototype.