Dreamr app: a relaxing experience?

David Winograd
D. Winograd|10.26.09

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Dreamr app: a relaxing experience?
Dreamr [iTunes Link] is an app for the iPhone or iPod touch running OS 3.1 or better that turns your device into a dreamachine. And what exactly is a dreamachine (also known as a dream machine)?

A dreamachine is a strobing flicker device, invented by Brion Gysin and Ian Summerville, that pulses light in a frequency range relating to alpha waves present in the brain while relaxing. Originally created using a turntable, a bulb, and a cylinder, you close your eyes and and the pulsing of the lights as seen behind your eyelids is supposed to cause varying states of relaxation, sometimes creating colorful patterns of swirling lights.

Pulses from 1-4 beats per second are supposed to cause deep relaxation, while pulses from 8-13 beats per second are said to cause a waking sleep often with accompanied by psychedelic shapes and trippy colors.

Author William S. Burroughs, one of the first proponents of the dreamachine, wrote:

"Subjects report dazzling lights of unearthly brilliance and color. ...Elaborate geometric constructions of incredible intricacy build up from multidimensional mosaic into living fireballs like the mandalas of Eastern mysticism or resolve momentarily into apparently individual images and powerfully dramatic scenes like brightly colored dreams."

The Dreamr app tells you to turn the brightness all the way up, choose a number of beats per second and a color, and then to hold the device's screen up to your closed eyes and see what happens. The buttons to choose beats per second were quite small and hard to consistently tap.

I gave Dreamr two ten minute tests, both in a comfortable recliner with my iPhone resting on my eyes. At 13 beats per second I found nothing at all, outside of noting that the speed of the flickering seeming to slow down and speed up after about 6 minutes. At 4 beats per second I may have been a bit more relaxed after about 8 minutes but that could have been due the quality of my recliner. Overall, I wasn't affected. Your results, however, may vary.

The app comes with a warning that this should not be used by small children, photosensitive people, or those that react badly to flashing lights. The price is $US.99.

We'd be very curious to know of the experiences of anyone who has used Dreamr, or in fact, any dreamachine. And that, my friends, is what the comments section is for.
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