Featured Tech Kickstarter: SHADOW

SHADOW | Community of Dreamers

by hunter lee soik

SHADOW is a mobile application that helps you remember and record your dreams. #LETSBUILDSHADOW

“Sleep on it.” We’ve heard it before—this incitement to hit pause on a complex challenge, to let your brain work its magic, to give what’s troubling you over to Steinbeck’s “committee of sleep.”

And it works. Our brain is an incredibly creative problem solver. And some parts of it are most active while we’re sleeping. Electricity, Frankenstein’s monster, nonviolent resistance, laser technology—all of these were conceived in dreams. Sleep is where some of humanity’s most incredible creations got their start. Yet, we forget 95% of our dreams within five minutes of waking up. That’s a huge amount of data—with unfathomable of potential—we forget each day, all because we don’t have a good way to record and understand it. What would happen if we remembered? Even better, what if we learned to make sense of it? We’re here to find out.

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Here’s how it works:

Quantified self products and alarm clocks that visualize your sleep patterns typically use built-in motion sensors to identify when you’re asleep and when you’re awake. But this technology is pretty limited, especially if the device you’re using (say, your phone) is on your mattress instead of on your body. Luckily, we have a lot of sleep research that can help us make this process more accurate, and more useful to the average dreamer.

The SHADOW actigraph will use the same motion sensor technology to track your sleep patterns, but add an extra layer of data personal to you: every morning when you wake up, SHADOW will ask you how groggy you feel. By plotting this data with the activity data that the app collects while you’re sleeping, we’ll be able to determine with startling accuracy the length of your individual sleep cycle. This number varies from person to person, but is relatively stable for each individual.

There’s a lot of conflicting data about which sleep state (light vs REM) is the most natural for you to be awoken from. So, instead of building a one-size-fits-all alarm clock that may leave some people more asleep than awake, we’re building an adaptive alarm that can learn your personal sleep style. With a smarter smart alarm, you can choose the best moment to wake up, maximizing dream recall and starting your day out right.

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When I worked in my previous 2 startups, my crazy schedule meant I almost never slept enough. When I forced myself to take a break, suddenly this whole new world opened up to me. I was having these really awesome dreams that I really wanted to remember. But I had no way of doing it. By tying the dream capture process into a daily ritual—the alarm clock—SHADOW seamlessly integrates into our sleep cycle, making it easy to visualize our dream life, tap into global dream patterns, and better understand ourselves and our world.

SHADOW also makes the whole process of waking up a bit easier. Using escalating alarms, SHADOW gradually transitions you through your hypnopompic state—that hazy in-between sleep phase—in a way that helps you better remember what you’ve dreamed.

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At its heart, SHADOW is still an alarm clock—just one with beautiful, advanced features. You tell SHADOW what time you want to wake up, and arm the alarm when you go to bed. SHADOW uses a series of escalating alarms to wake you up. The gradual increase in volume helps you better remember your dreams by taking you through your hypnopompic state (the transition from asleep to awake) much slower than a standard alarm clock.

Once you’re awake, SHADOW immediately prompts you to record your dreams via voice, text or question. Speak directly into the app to record your dream, and SHADOW will transcribe it, or type the content directly into the blank text box. If you’re really struggling to remember what you dreamed, you can opt to answer a series of 5-10 questions designed to jog your memory. The whole process takes less than five minutes.

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Once the data is recorded in the app, you decide how far and wide to share it. SHADOW is inherently social, but dreaming is intensely private. At every step in the process, you choose who you share your dream content with. Keep dreams to yourself or push them to the cloud, where your personal data is stripped and the content helps provide dream context to users all over the world.

The longer you use the app, the more rewarding the experience. SHADOW visualizes your sleep and dream patterns, and identifies common themes. Using dream content of other users, SHADOW turns these symbols and experiences into insights. And at the same time you’re learning about yourself, we’re working behind-the-scenes to organize all this data into the largest database of human dream knowledge in the world.

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But SHADOW isn’t just about illuminating our interconnectedness. It’s a platform for learning more about ourselves, too. The quantified self movement has given us many tools to measure what we do, but very few to help us understand that data. We can quantify ourselves, but do we really understand ourselves? By combining daily tracking with scientific and psychological research, SHADOW can visualize and contextualize dreams and help users progress from simply recalling their dreams to understanding them.

By G+ Author: Jacquelyn Tanner.

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