Online Insights on FIVEaa Sunday December 2 2012

December 2, 2012

To sleep, perchance to dream. Yes, this month’s Online Insights on FIVEaa with Sean Perry and Steve Davis begins with dreams and then moves into shoes that are ‘lost proof’, we then ponder the pests of Xmas before finishing with some optical illusions (perfect for radio).


The Dream:ON app by Professor Richard Wiseman

‘Tell him he’s dreaming,’ is an iconic phrase in Australia, thanks to the movie, The Castle.

But now, there’s an app for your smart phone that can tell IF you’re dreaming and help CREATE a dream you would like to have.

The free app is called Dream:ON and its development has been led by Professor Richard Wiseman in the UK.

Richard is a Professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, and has a ‘dream’ job because he spends his time researching topics like luck, self-help, illusion and persuasion.

This app has come out of his fascination with dreaming and is the basis for a worldwide, public experiment to see if managing our dream worlds will help us lead happier lives.

In a recent interview, Richard explained that current research suggests that our mood each day depends a lot on the last dream we have before waking up. There is also a strong correlation between what noises and sensations are occurring around us and the actual topic and subject matter of our dreams.

This means that if we were able to play suggestive sounds during our dream states, we could possibly create dreams that are fun, life-giving and satisfying, setting us up for better days and healthier, happier lives.

How this app works is as follows:

  • You set the time you want to be woken up
  • Choose your alarm sound
  • You also choose the dreamscape you want to create – it comes with Peaceful Garden and Into The City soundscapes preloaded
  • You then lay your phone down on your bed by your pillow and it monitors your movement so it can tell what stages of sleep you are passing through
  • As you enter your most likely last dream opportunity before your alarm goes off, it plays your soundscape and hopefully helps you create a magnificent dream of your choosing

Richard has said how playing the sound of trains has helped people dream they were on a train, etc.

As part of the app, you are asked to report on your last dream when you wake up so that the body of research can build up and help us learn more about dreaming.

Some of the soundscapes available include:

  • On the run – a brisk walk turns into a run but are you running TO or FROM something
  • Paparazzi – you are surrounded by the press
  • Space shuttle – you get to feel the exhilaration of launching into space
  • Wild west – places you in an old fashioned shoot out
  • Pool party – cocktail glasses clink and the pool splashes nearby
  • 50 shades of … – yes, you get to have a special moment with a special someone …

What I love about these, is that if they work for you, you will be able to say goodbye to visiting the movies  because you will be able to dial up adventures that deliver even better than ‘edge of your seat’ experiences!

The other interesting aspect of these is that some are called Lucid soundscapes, designed to help you become aware you are dreaming so that you can take even more control of your dream. In a recent survey of users, a majority of males said they wanted a soundscape to place them in a zombie attack. It is now available!

One final thought. Richard says people suffering depression are known to dream more than others and tend to dwell upon things that keep them depressed, so a tool like this might well have some very important therapeutic value in tackling or managing mental illness.

I have downloaded it and am about to try Dream:ON the app. Let me know how you go. At this stage it is iPhone only.

No place like home

Dominic Wilcox shoes
The No Place Like Home Shoes by Dominic Wilcox

Still in the UK and the topic of mixing dream world with real life brings us to The Wizard Of Oz.

In that crazy story of mystical adventure, Dorothy is told that she can return home by clicking her shoes together and saying, ‘there’s no place like home.’

Well, now we can all do that.

Dominic Wilcox is a British designer who creates very interesting work and says, ‘I spend most of my time attempting to reveal the hidden surprises which are embedded within the banal, everyday things that surround us.’

One of his most recent projects is a pair of shoes loaded with GPS so that when you want to start walking or travelling home you just click your heels and the shoes can guide you.

To use them you use a USB connection to load your home destination before you leave.

When you are out and it is time to come home, you click your heels together to activate the system.

Then little LED lights on the toe of one show shows you a progress meter of how close you are to completing your journey.

A circle of LED lights in the other shoe toe, show you which direction home is.

There is also a nice touch of red leather lining to tip the hat to Dorothy and her red shoes.

You can see more in this video on Dominic’s website.

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Visit the site to learn more about the GPS shoes.

Identifyng Christmas pests

Santa and Christmas Pests
Is this man a Xmas pest? (Image Kevin Dooley via Flickr)

On a recent Online Insights, we referred to a Hoopla article by FIVEaa listener, Colin Long, but we are back there once more for a piece on Ten Pests To Avoid At Christmas.

What struck me about this tongue-in-cheek list was how some of them are completely foreign to me while others are quirky insights.

The best quirky insight was number ten – the teenager serving you at Target while wearing tinsel reindeer horns. Mrs Woog argues it will not cheer you up, especially when you then get charged for a bag to take your goodies home in. I confess, sometimes marketers do get it wrong. Asking people to do that against their will creates a disconnect and highlights the ‘fakery’ of Xmas spirit in much of the retail sector. I would love a retailer to say, hey, this is a make or break time of the year for us, so we really hope we can meet your needs during this season so that we can make enough profit to fund wages and our operations for another year.

The most foreign one was number seven – the militant school mum. This is the mum who apparently takes it upon herself to poll people for gift ideas for a teacher, goes out and buys something completely different and insipid and then complains that people haven’t made their contribution. I am yet to experience this but it just sounds like some assertiveness training will do the trick to nip this in the bud.

She also has it in for Do Gooders (people who give a donation to a charity on your behalf) and Early Christmas Adopters (people who start planning their Xmas catering and gift buying on Boxing Day and brag about how prepared they are).

As with articles like these, lots of people have joined in through the comments, including this one from Lisa Lee who wrote:

What about the people who don’t send cards for two or three years (Yay, less for me to send), and then out of the blue send a really expensive, handmade ridiculously gorgeous one, that arrives on Christmas eve! No hope of replying to that one, and after the event it just seems like an afterthought But…..they always ask you if you received their card, and then you have to say the whole “oh it was lovely, sorry I didn’t get yours sent out in time.” I have enough trouble trying to get the school ones sorted.

The common theme running through all these pieces is how much we all seem to try to anticipate what other people’s needs and expectations are, while they do the same. While empathy can be a very healthy thing, I wonder if many people’s Xmas’ would be much happier if they could just stop the merry-go-round for a short time to talk through their needs and concerns with friends and family and delete, modify or create new traditions more in harmony with the wants and needs of the group?

I’ve heard of one group of couples in Adelaide who actually all meet for Yum Cha and have a ball, which shows it can be done.

What would be YOUR dream way of using the Xmas period?

Optical Illusions

Given the topsy turvy nature of tonight’s websites, I thought I’d finish with a small collection of optical illusions on video, pulled together by Professor Richard Wiseman.

They are all amusing but the weirdest one is the last one.

You stare into a spinning screen for about half a minute and then you look at the back of your hand – it looks like your skinning is bubbling apart.

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Hmm, makes you wonder about that saying, ‘seeing is believing.’