In 2015 the composer Max Richter explored new ways for music and consciousness to interact which resulted in an 8.5 hour concept album based on the neuroscience of sleep. The release was followed by a tour of concerts where the listeners were invited to sleep for the whole duration of the concert. In the documentary Sleep that compliments the album Richter talks about his interest in making an album created for the sleeping mind. He points out that the sleeping mind is an essential part of our lives, and that sleep is just a different cognitive state, it is not an absence of consciousness. And it is not only Max Richter that is interested in sleep, the business world is starting to spot its potential as well.
Sleep tech is a growing business, consisting of everything from connected blankets to robots ready to optimize the hours you spend in bed. Sleep tech is big business and by 2026, the market size could be upward of $30 billion. Some interesting examples of sleep tech available today is the sound asleep pillow which lets you plug your audio device into the pillow which plays sounds that only you can hear (so you don’t have to bother a partner). Or the Japanese start-up Neuroware’s intelligent lamp, Notte, which asks users to reflect on their day by speaking out loud to the lamp, just before going to sleep. Through AI and voice tone recognition, Notte assess how the user is feeling and will soothingly change colour accordingly.
It is interesting to note that whilst the tech industry wants to sell us devices that improve our sleep, the marketing industry instead sees a chance to exploit our sleep as a new potential arena for advertising, as “dreamvertising” is becoming more and more popular. The science behind “dreamvertising” is called dream incubation or targeted dream incubation (TDI). It is a modern field of science with ancient roots, where sensory cues like sound are used to shape or “prime” people’s dreams. Previously it has been used to change negative behaviors, like smoking. But now experiments are made within marketing to see if it can inspire brand affinity. Last year Molson Coors tried out this new kind of advertising campaign timed for the days before Super Bowl Sunday. The campaign was designed to infiltrate its viewers’ dreams, and through the use of TDI alter the dreams of the nearly 100 million Super Bowl viewers the night before the game. More specifically, to have them dream about Coors beer in a clean, refreshing, mountain environment — and presumably then drink their beer while watching the Super Bowl. An earlier example comes from the fast-food restaurant Burger King that used TDI in 2018 to promote its Halloween “Nightmare Burger,”. The campaign was clinically proven to induce actual nightmares.
At the moment there is a growing appetite from brands to experiment with dream influencing technology and techniques. In 2021 a study was made by the American Marketing Association, it found that 77% of US marketers plan to use dreamtech for advertising purposes in the next three years. And they can do so with great freedom since there currently are no prohibitive regulations in place governing this kind of technique. A fact that sounds like it is taken straight out of a nightmare as it is quite easy to envision a world in which smart speakers — of which 40 million Americans currently have them in their bedrooms — are made to become instruments of passive, unconscious overnight advertising…
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