Global Nominee

hypnos received a Global Nomination.

People's Choice Finalist

hypnos made it to the People's Choice Finals (Top 5)

Space Station

Out-of-this-world fashion with function: clothing or accessories for earth or space wear!

Every space traveler – even the robotic ones – should feel? their very best during the journey, infused with the very best data and technology available. Earthlings can follow suit. Design a space data-tech-fashion wearable in the form of clothing or accessories that will collect or distribute data and technology in the following categories:

Design for Interconnectivity (staying more connected to team, community, and tools)

  • enhance the work/life experience of humans and/or capabilities of robots  

Design for Health (biometrics, physical and emotional health, and/or environmental alerts)

  • maintain or improve the health and well-being of the human
  • provide early warning for unhealthy environmental factors (air quality, radiation, outgassing, temperature)

Design for Entertainment (sights, sounds, music, activity)

  • enhance the human experience whether during work or play


Visual & Auditory Stimulation for Circadian Programming

Sleep deprivation is a major impediment to the viability of extended space missions. Aside from microgravity, astronauts aboard the ISS do not experience the sun’s reinforcement of light and dark. When they sit in the ISS’s Cupola observatory, gazing out into the unknown, they witness 16 sunrises and sunsets within a 24-hour period due to the velocity of orbit around the Earth. Astronauts, on an average, sleep two hours less in space than on earth, which culminates in a tremendous health toll. But let’s zoom out for a second. Nearly one third of American drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel of a car. Sleep deprivation is a serious issue without a serious solution. Sleep deprivation is known to skew levels of immune-modulatory markers, predisposing you to a long list of serious conditions.

As we dis-regulate ourselves from the biphasic light stimulation of the sun, more and more, by exploring space, working crazy shifts, or abusing electronic devices, we see the prevalence of sleep deprivation rising in all age groups below 65 years old. And, poor sleep also means poor health, whether on earth or in orbit. The body enters into an inflamed state, cortisol levels go through the roof, and a sleep deprived individual becomes functionally impaired. The risk for stroke, cardiovascular events and obesity all drastically increase.

On top of this, the pharmaceutical compounds administered for poor sleep promote cognitive impairment and dependency. The most commonly used drugs in outer space are pain relievers and benzodiazepines. However, more recent studies have demonstrated that sedatives of this nature not only fail to induce normal sleep, they can cause more long- term problems than they solve, including dependence, reactive insomnia or cognitive handicaps.

Not only do we need a different solution to poor sleep: we need a revolutionary approach.

Until this point in history, we have leveraged light and sound in intuitive ways to better our existence by stimulating powerful psychological and corresponding physiological responses. It is time we give appropriate weight to the merit of using these media as clinical modalities to stimulate tunable physiological responses.

We chose to investigate these two forms of media - light and sound stimulation - to achieve tunable medical effects without pharmaceutical compounds.

The objective of our device is to naturally reprogram circadian and autonomic processes that modulate sleep and wake in individuals via a personal wearable format. This concept is inspired by research published across many peer-reviewed journals (including NEJM and STM) by Charles Cziesler, Laura Barger, Seth Horowitz, and other pioneers in sleep modulation research, several of these investigators already being on NASA’s radar.

But that isn’t what really sets us apart from the currently available technologies. There are two core concepts, one technical, one design-based:

From a design perspective, what sets us apart is the non-intrusive manner in which our device provides sensory cues for sleep/wake modulation. We break from the “glasses” shape which is the convention for such devices. Light exposure is designed to stimulate the wearer in an ambient fashion, with minimal direct incidence of colored light with the cornea. Simultaneously, bone conduction allows us to transmit lossless sound via the mastoid process, leaving the wearer’s eardrums free to receive sound input from his or her environment.

From a technical perspective, we differentiate ourselves by combining multiple, separate modes of sensory stimulation into one cohesive product. Light stimulation has been explored in glasses-resembling devices, but no existing wearable concept combines auditory and visual stimulation into one package. In summary, there is no existing wearable which integrates both visual and auditory stimulation.

Hypnos integrates the latest advancements in light & audio therapy research with superior design considerations:

  • Optimal wavelength selection that circumvents the macular degeneration associated with high lux levels and low wavelength light. Light is projected at an obtuse downward angle in order to be as nonintrusive as possible, incorporating diffuse reflection from facial features for ambient sensation of incident light
  • Low amplitude vestibular stimulation administered using bone conduction. This manner of administering auditory stimulus does not compete for with a user’s hearing in an exclusive fashion, leaving the auditory pathway free for tasks that require communication with other team members.
  • Pulses of light instead of a continuous stream of light. This has proven to be more effective resulting in shorter therapy sessions in addition to power conservation.

Our personal light delivery formats offer several advantages to the prevalent colored flood lamps, that generate a color bias in the entire space. It would be difficult for two individuals on different shifts or sleep cycles to simultaneously occupy a space promoting a particular color. Most importantly, sleep being a highly personalized experience, a one-on-one device allows tuning of stimulation to your personal sleep habits and preferences. This could be grounded in metrics already used to assess neurological health and sleep patterns. Consider even on Earth, under uniform light stimulation, the variety of sleep habits that exist; this margin will only be exacerbated by space.

Because metrics of sleep quality are already being collected from astronauts and analyzed by NASA, our proposal offers a high degree of personalization while being financially conservative. There are no secondary costs for impact assessment and subsequent feedback optimization beyond prototyping.

While the astronaut sleeps, reception of quantifiable biological data could not only provide critical feedback on the function of this device in a native state, but furthermore be used to optimize the device’s function on a very individual basis. In fact, the existing gap in the neurological technology landscape is in a period of intensive exploration. But advances in data computation brought on by machine learning are already revolutionizing this niche. Imagine a headband coupled with a computing or processing component that attempts to correlate various standards of measurement to extract meaningful relationships between sleep-inducing variables. The personal benefits a patient with circadian dysregulation could reap via the unique optimization provided by analysis coupling cannot be understated.

This device has a very disruptive capability to revolutionize the field of sleep medicine with regards to circadian disregulation for everyone beyond, but certainly including, those in extreme circumstances of AV exposure like space.

By putting this into the hands of patients, we provide a way for people to address poor sleep patterns on their own, autonomously of the medical system. Further, this concept has the potential to reduce reliance of existing medical infrastructure on small molecule drugs.

Resources Used


1. Czeisler et al. Exposure to bright light and darkness to treat physiologic maladaptation to night work, New England Journal of Medicine; vol 322; May 1995

2. Czeisler et al. Suppression of Melatonin secretion in some blind patients by exposure to bright light, New England Journal of Medicine; Jan 1995

3. Campbell et al. Extraocular Circadian Phototransduction in Humans; Science; vol 279; January 1998

4. Gooley et al. Spectral responses of the Human Circadian System depend on the irradiance and duration of exposure to light; Science Translational Medicine; vol 2,issue 31; May 2010


Our device was 3-d printed by MarkForged at the Gund Hall, Harvard Graduate School of Design (https://markforged.com)

Additional Video:

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