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Dream Machine

Technology That May Help Control and Create Dreams

Michel Gringas is getting ready for bed, a ritual not complete until he straps on his NovaDreamer.

Michel Gringas

"It's the best form of virtual reality," said Gringas. "It's a reality in which you can do absolutely everything."

Gringas is one of thousands who swear by the new technology that reportedly lets users control and create dreams.

"Flying is the most classic example," said Gringas, a Web designer and videographer from Canada. "When you realize you're having a lucid dream, you just take off and fly!"

Realizing you're in a lucid dream is the key, and that's where technology developed in a Stanford University lab by world-renowned lucid dreaming expert Stephen LaBerge comes in."When you do something in a dream, to the brain it's as if you're actually doing it," LaBerge said.

Lucid dreaming simply means knowing that you're dreaming while you're sleeping. Think Nightmare on Elm Street, but in a good way.

Control Your Dreams

The NovaDreamer is a mask that senses when you drift into REM or deep sleep. Developed by LaBerge's Lucidity Institute in Palo Alto, the mask emits gentle lights and sounds to provide subconscious cues that tell you you're dreaming without waking you up.

If you're able to pick up on those cues - LaBerge says that with the right training, anyone can do it - you'll experience a lucid dream. You'll actually be able to control what happens to you during the dream itself.

"In ordinary dreams we don't know it's a dream until we wake up. And so we don't know the opportunities available there," LaBerge said. "If you know it's a dream, you can transcend the usual limitations."

The NovaDreamer sells for about $300 and comes with a workbook to help the budding lucid dreamer hone his or her skills. An accessory to the device is a port that can download information from the mask directly to a PC. The data includes how many REM episodes the user experienced during the night and at what times.

REM sleep is the key to lucid dreaming and LaBerge says people develop patterns for REM sleep. If you can pick up on those, he says, you can better coordinate when you might experience a lucid dream.

For Gringas, this dream machine is a dream come true.

"While sleeping I could be awake doing other things… flying around, meeting Einstein or Gandhi, or having sex with 15 partners feeding me grapes," he said. "It's a whole world that you create!"

Gringas has created a Web site devoted to capturing dreams by using video and computing technology to re-create his lucid dreams, so everyone who logs on to his site can see what he has seen.

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