When I was a kid, we had those gadgets sold in the "well-being" section of Bed Bath & Beyond--you know, alongside foot massagers and home-spa kits and other things that I never thought anyone actually bought--and their whole schpiel was that they'd play you the soothing sounds of forests at night, crashing waves, chirping songbirds, or something else that was supposed to block out your neighbor's annoying dog. Or kids. Or garage chemistry lab.
But now, apparently, the Digital Age of Excess 2.0 demands that everything be a little bit fancier and more ridiculous than its late-20th-century equivalent. That's probably why sound machines now need to be sight-and-sound machines. This Japanese "Healing Theater Umine," for example, will display a variety of visualizations that go along with the usual New Agey sounds--tropical beach, underwater, swimming with dolphins, rainforest, what-have-you. Alternately, you can hook up your MP3 player, just in case that iPod is loaded with even better swimming-with-dolphins noises--or in case you want to accompany the light show with a little bit of Dead and any questionable substances whose use we absolutely do not condone.
It's $84, which I would only be willing to pay if there were also a "loud urban traffic" setting, which could help me go to sleep should I find myself without the usual lullaby of sirens, car horns, and bar patrons.
There are plenty of night sky visualization devices out there, but this is the first one we've seen that branches beyond the cosmos. It comes from TakaraTomy, which as you may recall, has also brought us the floating planet balloons that are about thirty years too late: I'm sure the Dark Side of the Moon crowd would've dug them before they had kids and turned into yuppies.