The Remee made a considerable splash in 2012 as a "next generation lucid dream mask". But now many people are asking: has it lived up to all the media excitement? Unique in some of its features, yet lacking what some describe as an essential component of a lucid dreaming mask, the following review tracks the story of Remee and what it can really do for your lucid dream life.
The Remee started out as a much-publicized Kickstarter project by Duncan Frazier and Steve McGuigan in New York. With a keen interest in lucid dreaming, they wanted to create the ultimate lucid dream mask, deciding that all existing masks are too big, bulky and expensive. I would certainly agree with this starting premise.
They calculated their experimental dream mask project needed at least $35,000 to get off the ground. With a little marketing savvy (and copious media interest to follow) the Remee project gained a grand total of $572,891 in financial support. This overwhelming response demonstrated how eager the novice lucid dreaming community were to discover an artificial way of inducing lucid dreams.
The Remee was marketed as the world's first comfortable and affordable - yet fully functional - lucid dream mask. People got really excited about that. However, since the product hit the market, the response has been less than overwhelming.
So what went wrong? Did the creators over-hype Remee's true capabilities? Have we somehow misunderstood the applications of Remee? Or are we all just suckers for believing that lucid dreaming is easily attainable with a simple gadget?
I sense, and I'll explain why, it's a little of all three.
The key to initiating a lucid dream is being able to consciously recognize when you're dreaming. So as with any lucid dream mask, Remee works by flashing a series of light patterns towards your closed eyelids while you're in REM sleep. It is then your task to interpret the flashing light cues as a sign that you are dreaming. Think of it as an artificially produced reality check.
The light is integrated into your dream in various ways, depending on the nature of the dream you're having. But just because the lights flash red in the waking world, it does not mean you'll see red lights in your dream. For example, if you're dreaming about sailing across a blue ocean, the water may being to sparkle, the sunlight may get in your eyes, or a glittery mermaid may pop up from the aquatic depths...
The timing and intensity of these lights are customized. If they are too bright for your personal tolerance, they will wake you up completely. If they are too dim, they won't penetrate your dream world. This issue is common among all lucid dream masks; the difference with Remee is that you can program them via their website instead of fiddling around with miniscule switches on the device itself.
It's features like this which distinguish Remee from other lucid dream devices. Other much-needed developments include a small and inexpensive coin cell battery (no clunky AAAs lining your eye sockets) and a comfortable, lightweight mask that enables you to sleep in almost any position (incumbent masks were really only good for backsleepers).
However, as the real-world results show, Remee also lacks some important features which may make an even bigger impact on its performance.
The market had huge expectations of Remee long before it was released. It was touted as a next generation lucid dream mask. To some extent it is. There's no denying it beats all other masks at being lighter and slicker in it's customization.
However, for those expecting The Ultimate Lucid Dream Mask, it is something of a letdown. Remee (like any mask) cannot guarantee lucidity, particularly in beginners, and still requires a decent amount of focused effort to get results.
People were jumping online after two nights of "sleeping with Remee", crying foul play. That's not a fair standard on which to judge a lucid dream aid, because we all know it doesn't happen that fast. Yet for some reason people still expected it.
This is the problem with lucid dreaming gadgetry; none of it is as instantly gratifying as we'd like to hope. So the Remee, which sounded pretty gosh darn amazing on paper, was not as popular in the mainstream as we all expected. It quickly gained a reputation for being over-hyped and even scam-worthy.
(For the record, I'm pretty sure the inventors did not set out to create a scam: at $95 Remee is the cheapest lucid dream mask ever released. Early light-emitting masks from The Lucidity Institute cost more than $1,000. For so-called "scammers" they certainly picked a price point in the low end of the market. And there is a legitimately good reason for the low price point which I'll explain in a moment.)
So, what exactly were the basis of the complaints about Remee?
Firstly, amateur lucid dreamers like this Redditer reported that the lights failed to enter their dreams altogether, even at the brightest intensity setting. Despite checking the mask placement, experimenting with all the signal patterns and at a frequency of every minute after three hours of sleep, the lights were still mysteriously absent. They had no idea why the lights weren't filtering into the dream world.
There could be two explanations for this problem.
One explanation is that the user wasn't recalling the dreams in which the lights were actually flashing (or perhaps they were flashing but the dream sign was so subtle that it went unrecognized). The solution would be to continue sleeping with Remee at full intensity on a continued basis. As I mentioned earlier, no lucid dream mask is a magic bullet, so users can expect to spend several nights calibrating the mask and discovering its abilities, before getting into any kind of lucidity-inducing routine over the following weeks and months. That takes commitment.
The other explanation is a little more sobering. As one user pointed out, Remee is a prototype operating in an (as then) untested market. It could be an inherent fault in the design itself which was completely overlooked by the creators...
It may have been an error in judgment for the inventors to call their lucid dream mask Remee - when it is the only such device on the market that doesn't actually detect REM sleep. Oops.
For obvious reasons, this detail was not flaunted on their marketing videos either. It was mentioned in the fine print but that was all. And it's quite a crucial detail that didn't really become apparent to the market until Remee shipped in late 2012.
So, why is this so crucial?
Rapid Eye Movement sleep is the period in which you are most likely to dream. It occurs at the end of each sleep cycle, at varying intervals throughout the night. It is very hard to guess when you'll be entering REM sleep, so the best way to detect it without an EEG is to literally watch for the rolling of the eyeballs during sleep.
Other lucid dreaming masks like The NovaDreamer and The REM Dreamer (which retail for hundreds of dollars) use infra-red eye movement sensors to detect REM. For them, the only purpose of a timer is to allow for a short delay between the start of a dream and the flashing lights, which allows the dream to shape up a bit first. This missing ingredient may explain why the Remee is so comparatively cheap.
With no REM detection ability, Remee must guess when you are in REM sleep, which as DEILD iPhone app creator Alexander Stone has found, is exceedingly difficult. "The times of dreams shift from night to night," he says. "If your bedtime changes... then it would be very hard to hit a 15 minute dreaming window... Not only do I have to hit the correct dream time with Remee, I also have to hit the correct dream intensity."
"I have tried," Stone went on, "and thousands of users of my app tried, but hitting REM, even with a 'smart timer' is hard... Hitting REM with a blind timer is a ridiculous task." As an electrical engineering student, Stone doesn't hold out much hope for upgrade potential either. "There's really no space for additional electronics, like a bluetooth module, and the 3.3 volt watch battery would not be able to support wireless data. I guess we get what we paid for."
If you have already purchased a Remee and found similar fundamental issues with the light cues, don't despair. Numerous users have spoken of other creative uses for Remee, besides the intended textbook route to lucidity.
If you find the light intensity frequently wakes you up completely, this can actually be a good thing that improves your dream recall. Studies show that we typically remember dreams when we wake directly from them, or shortly after. If Remee wakes you from a dream, you can wake up fully and write it down in your dream journal. Or you can keep absolutely still and attempt something pretty trippy...
...If you're awoken from a dream by the flashing lights, simply stay still and re-imagine a lucid dream scene. Encourage any feelings of numbness or bodily dissociation. It's much easier to slip back in to the dreamstate this way, consciously and deliberately. There are variations of such dream re-entry techniques, including Wake Induced Lucid Dreams, and they can create stunning mental experiences.
Here's another inspired use for your Remee involving the Wake Back to Bed Technique, dreamed up by Ascensium. Go to sleep for 5-6 hours then use your Remee in nap mode (where the nap delay is 10 minutes and the signal interval is 1 or 2 minutes). Relax your body completely. As you meditate and float off to sleep, Remee will wake you from your semi-sleep state. Try to go back to sleep completely. A minute later, Remee will pull you back. Keep doing this until you start to experience prolonged hypnagogic hallucinations on the sleep-wake border. They can become highly complex and compelling.
At times, the flashing lights will even integrate themselves into your hypnagogia, demonstrating that these hallucinations are actually the primitive beginnings of the dream world. Skilled lucid dreamers will be able to slip right into a lucid dream.
While it's not all bad news about Remee, I think a lot of the original customers who bought into the pre-release marketing excitement feel somewhat disappointed. Especially those complete newbies who have never had a lucid dream before. They bought a lucid dream mask expecting instant lucid dreams and that's pure fallacy. I believe the people who will get the most out of masks like Remee are those who have experience in inducing lucid dreams naturally. Which is ironic really.
Physically, Remee is a slick, streamlined gadget inside the average budget. We all like and appreciate that. But arguably it lacks key features that other lucid dreaming masks support. That includes REM detection and two-way communication (in which the dreamer signals to the mask via eye movements when they are lucid, so as to stop any more distracting flashes - now that's clever).
I'm yet to enthusiastically support any kind of lucid dream mask on this website, and I'm not about to make an exception for Remee. I have long felt that it's better to be able to trigger lucidity naturally, without any external aids. Even Remee users still have to work at their dream recall and make sense of the flashing lights as dream signs. There is just as much effort involved. The only potential benefit of a lucid dream mask is receiving a greater number of lucidity triggers on a given night.
We do have to thank Remee for one thing, however, and that is further popularizing lucid dreaming in the media. During Remee's hugely successful fundraising, Google searches for the term "lucid dreaming" hit an all time high, increasing a whopping five-fold in the month of March 2012. At the same time, a flurry of dream-related apps hit the iPhone and Android. The emergence of new lucid technology can, if not live up to the hype, at least draw the public eye towards the science and applications of lucid dreaming, which in my mind is a very good thing indeed.
To learn more about Remee or purchase online visit Sleep With Remee.