Why Dream Capture Is The Next Phase Of The Quantified Self Trend

Why Dream Capture Is The Next Phase Of The Quantified Self Trend

SHADOW alarm clock app helps users record and store their subconscious adventures and compare them with others around the world.

Rachel Oliner, PSFK
  • 22 september 2013

When you wake up, chances are that the dreams that filled your mind for the past few hours have slipped away from memory. In fact, 95% of dreams are completely forgotten if not recorded within five minutes of waking up.

While working as a creative consultant for Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Watch The Throne tour, Hunter Lee Soik wasn’t sleeping very well.  If he was lucky, he’d manage four dreamless hours of sleep a night.

“It wasn’t until I took some time off that I started sleeping again,” says Soik. “I’d have these intense, vivid dreams, which I hadn’t felt in a long time and I wanted to store them.”

Finding that there were no apps dedicated to dream recording, Soik and co-founder Jason Carvalho began building SHADOW this year. Positioned as an alarm clock, SHADOW helps you record and remember your dreams, and hopes to evolve into a cloud-based global dream repository.

SHADOW uses an escalated alarm to gradually wake users up, incrementally increasing the volume and vibration to ensure that sleepers aren’t immediately torn apart from their dreams. Once the alarm is shut off, users can talk about the dream out loud or write it out – both of which the app transcribes and pulls keywords from.


Every user’s dream data is stored in their private feed, and can be sent to an anonymous data cloud so that others can review and compare their dreams with each other.  If Bill Murray crashed a party in my dream last night, I can locate others around the world that have dreamt about Bill Murray or party crashing, and identify what we have in common and what differentiates us.


“Dreams are inherently social but intensely private,” explains Soik. “It’s one of those things that everybody has an opinion on but nobody knows [about]. We now can get the data and start looking at it – we can make the invisible visible.”

Currently on Kickstarter, SHADOW wants to be part of what Soik describes as the next phase of the quantified-self movement – the understood self. While devices like Jawbone Up and the Nike+ FuelBand allow us to measure intricate physical data points about ourselves, they don’t provide any conclusive interpretations or connect to our subconscious thoughts and feelings.

The app’s name pays homage to famed psychologist Carl Jung. “[Jung’s] Shadow Theory implies that everything in your subconscious mind that you can’t see is in your shadow. And that’s the stuff that you should be paying attention to,” says Soik.

SHADOW hopes that by harnessing dreams as another data point for reflection and self-improvement, that users will begin to connect their fitness-monitoring devices to their subconscious to create a fuller picture of the self.




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