Project

Cocoon: Speculative Dream Engineering

Fluid Interfaces

Groups

Cocoon is our vision of a programmable dream machine from the future. This device would be enabled by the synthesis of many devices under development at MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group. As a dreamer descends into sleep, Cocoon tracks three sleep-stages using brain activity, muscle tension, heart rate, and movement data that are revealed through its dome.  External stimuli in the form of scent, audio, and muscle stimulation direct the content of the dreams. Crossing boundaries both disciplinary and experiential, Cocoon offers an embodied investigation of one’s own consciousness, a philosophy in the flesh; with it users can observe and engage the torsion of their senses, see and shape dreams which are otherwise entirely uncontrollable, unlinked, and unseen. We hope this speculative vision, and the conversations it inspires, help us reflect on how we develop our existing dream engineering technologies going forward, and how we combine them. 

Cocoon has been shown at Ars Electronica 2018, the Beijing Media Arts Biennale 2018, and the Han Shan Art Museum.

Cocoon is our vision of a programmable dream machine from the future. This device would be enabled by the synthesis of many devices under development at MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group. As a dreamer descends into sleep, Cocoon tracks three sleep-stages using brain activity, muscle tension, heart rate, and movement data that are revealed through its dome.  External stimuli in the form of scent, audio, and muscle stimulation direct the content of the dreams. Crossing boundaries both disciplinary and experiential, Cocoon offers an embodied investigation of one’s own consciousness, a philosophy in the flesh; with it users can observe and engage the torsion of their senses, see and shape dreams which are otherwise entirely uncontrollable, unlinked, and unseen. We hope this speculative vision, and the conversations it inspires, help us reflect on how we develop our existing dream engineering technologies going forward, and how we combine them. 

Cocoon has been shown at Ars Electronica 2018, the Beijing Media Arts Biennale 2018, and the Han Shan Art Museum.

The ethics of dream engineering and sleep manipulation is a critical public discussion that should be addressed due to its increased experimental approaches and the development of commercial products. The moral values of HCI during sleep should be taken into account to avoid the misuse of these technologies and to prevent harmful sleep interventions.

Therefore, to generate discussion, we created Cocoon, a dystopian video showcasing a fictional programmable dream machine enabled by the synthesis of real work-in-progress prototypes developed at the MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group. As a dreamer descends into sleep, Cocoon tracks three sleep-stages using brain activity, muscle tension, heart rate, and movement data that are revealed through its dome. Cocoon uses ongoing platforms we developed. External stimuli in the form of scent, audio, and muscle stimulation direct the content of the dreams. We use Dormio to detect Hypnagogia, the state between sleep and wake, influencing visual and idea generation using audio. We use Essence to alter the emotional content of dreams and memory consolidation during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Deep Sleep. We use Electronight to administer muscle stimulation to arms and legs and change the kinesthetic content of dreams. Crossing boundaries both disciplinary and experiential, Cocoon offers an embodied investigation of one’s own consciousness, a philosophy in the flesh; with it, users can observe and engage the torsion of their senses, see and shape dreams which are otherwise entirely uncontrollable, unlinked, and unseen.

Copyright

Ars Electronica vog.photo