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Curing Insomnia With VR Lightshows, Ambient Music, And Interactive Beds


Inducing restfulness via kaleidoscopic visuals and ambient music.

Originally developed as part of a public art installation by PluginHUMAN, a group of creators based out of RMIT University’s Exertion Games Lab, Inter-Dream is garnering the attentions of researchers and sleep specialists who believe the unique device could be used to improve the sleep quality of those suffering from restlessness during sleep. 

Developed by art duo Dr. Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer, Inter-Dream combines VR technology, kaleidoscopic visuals, manually-controlled ambient music, and an interactive bed to create a calming, stress-free virtual environment in which users immerse themselves.

By conducting an electroencephalogram (EEG) test, the system tracks individual brain patterns and assigns to each a color; the more active a person’s brain, the greater and more chaotic the spectacle. The idea is that by providing users with a colorful spectacle of constantly-changing visuals, the subject will eventually lull themselves to sleep using their own brainwave patterns. 

According to a study conducted by PhD researcher Nathan Semertzidis at the RMIT University’s Exertion Games Lab, participants reported a 21% decrease in negative emotion and a whopping 51% decrease in fear after using Inter-Dream. Meanwhile, feelings of serenity increased by 13%. 

Curing Insomnia With VR Lightshows, Ambient Music, And Interactive Beds 1
Image Credit: RMIT University

“Technology and sleep are always talked about as incompatible,” said Semertzidis in an official release from RMIT University. “Our findings flip that notion upside down and show how technology can also aid rest and relaxation.”

“Some of them reported really going on a journey by manipulating the system with their minds. This is no trivial notion in the context of inducing positive pre-sleep states, as it has been well documented that creative expression is strongly associated with positive effects on emotion and affect.”

Feature Image Credit: RMIT University

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