Dream:ON and the rise of the social app

When we think of iPhone apps, images of Angry Birds, personal organisers and vintage-looking photos might come to mind. A new app called Dream:ON, however, is just one of an alternative selection of iPhone software, which benefits users and serves as a social experiment.


Users place their iPhone in bed with them while they sleep. Once the app detects they are dreaming, it plays a pre-selected soundscape that can influence dreams and encourage lucid dreaming (a state in which sleepers consciously control what happens in their dreams). When dreamers awake, they enter details of their dream into the “Dream Bank”, which scientists are using to analyze dreams and discover potential correlations between age, gender, and cultural events.

Dream:ON is the latest app in the trend, following other offerings such as “The Button: A Social Experiment”, which measures how many times users will press a button in one sitting, and, according to reviews, is surprisingly addictive.

Not only are apps a vehicle for social experiments, but they are also encouraging more social behaviour among users. Hipstamatic creators, Synthetic, decided to turn their phenomenally popular camera app into a social activity with D-Series. Users can select friends to add to their ‘camera roll’, but none of the participants can view the pictures until the camera roll is full, when they’ll be able to see the pictures all participants have taken.

Other apps, like Carticipate, have a social emphasis with a higher purpose. Designed to encourage and facilitate lift-sharing, Carticipate aims to make commuters’ lives more convenient, reduce traffic and keep environmentalists happy all in one go.

As the use of smartphones, tablets, and apps becomes more widespread, it’s unsurprising that professionals are starting to use mobile apps to mine data from their users. Critics might argue that the rise in online connectivity, and communication through text, email and social networking, has pushed individuals further apart. These apps, however, demonstrate that technology can also bring people together, and help us learn more about each other.

The Dream:ON app is free from the iTunes Store, and you can purchase extra soundscapes to supplement its existing features.