I know that some people, many people, (most people?), would consider buying the first iteration of the Apple Watch frivolous. For me, this choice had both deep symbolic meaning and real functional opportunities. I had been window-shopping online for nearly a year trying to decide on the perfect time-piece. Glad I didn't rush-in and end up buying some fancy mechanical watch that only...tells time.
For the lucid dreamer, a wrist-computer like the Apple Watch offers several angles of support towards lucidity induction efforts--for both training and direct cueing purposes--all wrapped-up in a very personal, non-intrusive, and highly-accessible device. Of particular interest to me were the abilities to customize notifications with (or without) gentle vibration-cues on my wrist, and a heart-rate sensor for experimenting with body/mind-state metrics.
The Apple Watch is still in its infancy in terms of where it will go in further development, and as of this writing the ability to customize the heart-rate sensor (and associated notifications) is very limited. However, I have found some early success using other apps. Let's go through two interesting approaches I've been using with the Apple Watch for my own lucid induction experiments:
1. Good Ole' Reality Checks Nothing new here, right? Not exactly. This really is a better mouse trap.
What I do is set events on my phone's calendar and for reality testing purposes I might type in something like "Test For Dreaming and REMEMBER to expect that you may be dreaming!" I can enter several events throughout the day like this or I can stretch the events' time-block down for many hours. What happens is the Apple Watch will read the events on the calendar and--depending on the watch face customizations I've chosen--display the current event on my Watch screen. When this is setup, I can spontaneously decide to perform a reality-check and look at my watch - glancing at, away, and back to either the time or the message. Or, any time I look at my Watch for any reason I will see the set message.
One benefit to this is that you can switch the messages up; variety is useful for keep us from habituating to a stimulus and eventually ignoring it altogether. And your Watch is always right there! As for the text--your self-directed message--it is the perfect size for reality testing and in a dream completely lacks stability. I learned a long time ago--at least for me--traditional dials with hour and minute hands are TOO stable to be used confidently as reality testers, so when doing induction training I keep my watch face away from the "analogue" look.
2. Vibration Reminders
This is where it's at! Right from the Watch I can say "Hey Siri" or (more discreetly) press the bezel for 2-seconds and be prompted to give a voice-instruction to the OS. Beginning with "Remind me to..." I instruct Apple Watch to notify me with a particular message at whatever-O'Clock. It might go "Hey Siri, remind me to perform a reality-check at a quarter to 7." Once I confirm that my instructions were heard correctly, I might continue to set similar reminders throughout the day. I have my Watch set to give me vibrations for notifications (no beeping for me), and these reminders are the best (pre-set) cues I have ever used for daytime reality testing. On a more ambitious day I may have these vibrations go off every 15-minutes. Of course, it is vitally important in order for this to be effective that I take it serious...do the full looking at the message and then away and then back; REALLY expect that the answer to the test/question could be "Yes! I am dreaming!," and even consider what my next lucid dream goal/objective is and do something physically to reinforce that I will do that thing; oh - and right after doing the cued reality check and before reinforcing the dream goal, actually perform a stabilization technique (hand rubbing or affirmation such as "More Lucidity Now!"). If you aren't doing these things every time you do a reality check, you are missing out on a lot of training opportunity and are actually reinforcing bad habits.
If vibration reminders were just great for daytime cues to instigate reality checks while awake, that would be cool. But yes, there's more. Before getting into that though, let me tell you what happened to me even before my Apple Watch arrived:
I'm in my backyard with Mom and we notice a helicopter is about to crash right near us; it abruptly goes from flying level with the ground to almost nose-diving. But it doesn't crash. Then it does another maneuver that looks impossible and it "should" crash into a nearby house because it was so tilted on its side. I didn't know choppers could fly like this. Mom is shocked as well, and says "...and this isn't even a dream!" I wonder..."Well, we should definitely check." I have a watch on and have us both look at its time display - seems messed-up from the get-go, but I say "Now we look away, look back...," it is definitely not stable. A few seconds ago I would have agreed - all except for the helicopter "seemed" like waking reality. I am dreaming. But, now I'm back in...
Yes, that's a word-for-word snippet from my current dream journal. May 15th, 2015, 4:45am (when I began writing). The kicker - I had ordered the Apple Watch 2 days before this dream and wasn't going to receive it for another week (and I was not a watch-wearer). For one thing, I was excited about the Watch coming; for another, I had taken Lucidimine at 2:30am after briefly awakening. I wasn't really trying too hard to induce lucidity that night; I hadn't done any prep-work. I didn't have any goals clearly in mind. I had just started writing again in my dream journal a few days before this after a long break. And even after I became lucid I failed to stabilize immediately. Never-the-less, any lucidity is welcomed by me. But hold on, this is what happened when the Watch arrived...
I figured out how to best use the built-in reminder application on June 6th, 2015 (for a few days or weeks before this I admit that I was not having success at controlling my cues the way I wanted to). That same night I dropped the wife off at the airport - the bed was all mine! Well, it was the dog's. And mine. Anyway, I was playing with the reminders and was cueing myself like a madman for a few hours before going to bed. I also set reminders to vibrate when I knew I would be sleeping. At 12:45am I woke up and scribbled this down in my journal:
I'm sitting down, inside, with some woman. Outside, through the window we can see this thing in the air in the distance coming closer. She says "What is that, the intergalactic space something-or-other?" I look at it, and it at first seems like a large scaffolding of a zeppelin but as it gets closer I can see something like a zeppelin is carrying this thing but it becomes more clear and it is some giant glass sculpture, cylindrical. Spinning slowly. I explain casually it's just a sculpture of some kind being transported. It is spinning strangely though for something that large. As it passes overhead the spinning now seems to be through the vertical axis. Very strange. I am talking the bizarreness down, saying it's no big deal, but its direction has changed and it's heading back the other way. I realize that this is no longer making sense and I am confident I am dreaming. I say "Oh, nope. Actually, this is my dream. Here, look at my watch..." I know it will be bizarre, but the watch face is completely illegible. No characters, no sense at all. I'm beyond convinced, but maybe not them [there were more characters around now]. I say "Look - I'm going to stick my finger through the window." I suspect that I may have resistance with the glass but my finger goes right through easily. They seem shocked/impressed. I remember to...
I'm not positive the reminder vibration(s) I set to go off while I was sleeping were actually what cued me in to this dream (besides the wild aerial events), but sometimes we don't consciously notice the cue - just the behavioral response (in this case reality checking) which has been trained to follow the cue. Back when I used my NovaDreamer REM-detection and lucidity-cueing mask, I would sometimes simply become aware that I had the mask on my face. I might not "notice" the flashing LEDs, I just noticed that the mask was on my face. One time I was laying on my bed and had this realization that the mask was on and I wasn't sure if I was awake or dreaming. I pressed the reality-test button on the front of the mask; if a chirping sound and light-flash do not follow the button press it probably means you are dreaming (or the batteries are dead). This time: No chirp. No lights. I took the mask off and saw that I was in bed, but...my bed was on a snow-covered beach. When I later woke up, the windows were open near my bed and the night air was cold.
So, What Do I Think About the Apple Watch?
I love it. I've also read plenty of negative reviews. People didn't know what they were getting. Unrealistic expectations. And, the Watch really came out in minimalist form - no third-party developers had Watches to experiment with until we all could buy them. But I bought the size and model I wanted to. I bought the band I wanted. I bought the extra insurance. I knew what I was going to do with it, and I ask for help from the Apple support team when I have questions. There are other smart-watches out there, and some may already have cooler applications available for lucid dreaming purposes (whether they were intentionally designed for this or not). But I like my Watch's quality. How it feels. How I interact with it. And after figuring out the reminder cues...success the very first night? Not too bad.