I had that dream again the other night. The one where I (oops!) forgot to go to class all semester and it's time for the final, and OMG, but wait, maybe somehow I can fake my way through it?
Apparently, this dream plans to dog me no matter how far away from college I get. I've had it so many times it deserves its own soundtrack. And now, it turns out, it can get one.
Computer scientists from Finland's University of Helsinki have developed software that makes music out of sleep patterns.
"The software composes a unique piece based on the stages of sleep, movement, heart rate, and breathing" explains student Aurora Tulilaulu, who developed the program. "It compresses a night's sleep into a couple of minutes."
The software relies on data collected from an Internet-connected Beddit smart sensor placed under a mattress to record a sleeper's patterns. The sensor links to an online "sleep musicalization" service where sleep music can be generated, with the user's permission, and accessed.
The site currently hosts more than 20 sleep songs with titles like "I was happy," "Sunday feelings," "Zzzzzz," and "A terrible night?" I expected that last one to sound like a screaming Deep Purple anthem; instead, it has the same simple and lilting could-score-a-foreign-film quality as many of the others.
The current composition algorithms make for relatively basic little pieces "and, as a result, the musicality of the melodies is still questionable," the University of Helsinki team says in a research paper titled "Sleep Musicalization: Automatic Music Composition from Sleep Measurement (PDF). I don't know if I'd put the songs on regular iPod rotation, but they do have a uniquely personal and (dare I say it?) dreamlike feel.
Music reviews aside, the University of Helsinki team is "developing a novel way of illustrating, or in fact experiencing, data," said Hannu Toivonen, a professor of computer science at the university. Sleep analysis, a hot field in our supposedly sleep-deprived world, "is a natural first application."
The team will present its research at the International Symposium on Intelligent Data Analysis in Helsinki in October. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a CD to record.