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HolidayBuyer's Guide

LUMI: The sleep mask enters the 21st century

Will a KickStarter's invention--which not only blocks out light but also lets it back in (sort of)--be the next big Sky Mall hilarity, or might it actually change the way we wake?

Taylor Franklin Hide looks tired. Cute, but tired. (See video.) So it's hardly surprising that the Alabama-based inventor has been so focused on maximizing the quality of his sleep.

Enter the LUMImask, which he has recently unveiled on the creative funding Web site KickStarter. The plain, black mask with an almost-invisible little alarm on one side looks like a Trekkie's dream accoutrement (pun!), and it comes with an appropriately dramatic slogan: Light. Dark. Both. (Some things you just can't make up.)

You see, Hide faced a conundrum: he required darkness to sleep, but he loved it when light woke him, so the old-fashioned sleeping mask just wasn't cutting it. With LUMI, he gets to not only block out the light when he wants to sleep but experience the gradual simulation of sunrise over a half hour when he needs to wake.

It's that simple. If you set your LUMI alarm for 6, the light begins at 5:30, gradually brightening, and ultimately climaxing in a full crescendo of light and audible alarm at the appointed time.

An alarm controller allows for the adjustment of both wake-up time and intensity of light. In the winter months, for instance, one may prefer a soft hue reminiscent of northern latitudes, and in the summer a chirpy penetration of equatorial lumination.

Studies have suggested that light at night can increase one's risk for depression and even for cancer, but the jury is out on whether LUMI provides sufficient blockage or even improves quality of sleep. And yet the mask is already raising the sleepy eyelids of a number of backers on KickStarter.

When Slash Gear reported on Hide's KickStarter campaign yesterday, the inventor had 56 backers with some $2,560 in total investment (his goal being $10,000 by January 24, 2011). He's got to be onto something, because at the time of this post's publication just one day later, 147 backers have kicked $12,369 his way.

If you like his idea, an even $50 will secure you a LUMImask with a supporter tag available only for, well, supporters (there are 121 $50 backers so far). Even for himself, Hide has named a price: a $5,000 pledge will get you one full day with Hide, to "discuss life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in slightly sunny Birmingham, Ala. (travel and accommodations not included)."

According to KickStarter, one person has already signed on for that pledge. One is left to consider the logical outcome of said rendezvous, which must surely involve putting on their LUMIs and sleeping together.

Shoot, they wouldn't even have to wait for the sun to go down.