Can your phone be used to help you have the perfect dream?
Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain, hopes to answer that question with a mass experiment that launched on Tuesday at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.
Dr. Wiseman and an app developer have created an iPhone app called Dream: ON, which plays different soundscapes while you sleep in the hopes of influencing your subconscious.
The soundscape scenarios include everything from lying on the beach to a relaxing walk in the woods. When your dream is over, the app sounds an alarm to rouse you from sleep so that you can submit a description of whatever you dreamed about to a database called the Dream Catcher.
"The app is free and we want as many people as possible to participate," Dr. Wiseman said in a release. "I have conducted many mass participation experiments in the past, but this is by far the most ambitious and exciting."
The goal of the study is to understand what influences our dreams, which may lead to the ability to engineer the pleasant dreams that see us waking cheery and ready for work, apparently.
"Getting a good night's sleep and having pleasant dreams boosts people's productivity, and is essential for their psychological and physical well-being. Despite this, we know very little about how to influence dreams – this experiment aims to change that," Dr. Wiseman said.
Do your dreams interfere with your sleep or affect your well-being the next day? Would you be interested in an app or a device that could influence your dreams?