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‘Pokémon Sleep’ Wants to Gamify Your Dreams

The upcoming mobile game will interface with 'Pokémon GO' and come paired with a device meant to collect sleep data.

by Nicole Carpenter
May 29 2019, 7:07pm

Screengrab: YouTube

Pokémon GO brought Pokémon to every part of your waking life, turning a normal walk into a gamified digital playground. Now, The Pokémon Company wants to turn sleep into a game with an upcoming game called Pokémon Sleep, announced during a press conference on Tuesday.

The Pokémon Company hasn’t provided many details on the mobile application, but said that it’s aiming to “turn sleep into entertainment” by interfacing with Pokémon GO, and that the product will be released in 2020.

Along with the app, the company plans to release a new device called the Pokémon GO Plus+ specifically for collecting sleep data, meant to be placed next to your pillow at night. The device, which will function normally as a way to play Pokémon GO without looking at your phone during the day, will also send “sleep information to your smartphone via Bluetooth,” according to a tweet from the official Pokémon account.

According to a press release, the device will use an “embedded accelerometer” to track the player’s sleep time. It’s unclear how this will be accomplished, but it’s worth noting that the accelerometer in your phone tracks motion. One smartphone app that uses the device’s accelerometer to track sleep, called Sleep Cycle, says the accelerometer “is used to analyze your movements as you sleep” and instructs the user to place their phone next to their pillow at night.

Pokémon Sleep will be created by Magikarp Jump developer Select Button, The Pokémon Company president Tsunekazu Ishihara said during the event. Niantic CEO John Hanke said during the event that the Pokémon GO developer is “excited to find ways to reward good sleep habits” in the game.

The Pokémon Company is choosing to gamify sleep as app users are starting to wonder what happens to their data once its collected by apps and wearable devices, and so a game that keeps tabs on your every moment (waking or asleep) is likely a creepy thought for many.

For example, data from activity trackers like the Fitbit can be used by insurance companies to decide how much you pay. In 2018, a US-based division of insurer Manulife announced that it would provide wearable fitness trackers to customers in exchange for lower premiums.

“We take the topic of user privacy very seriously and will of course comply with all laws and government regulations when designing the specifications of the game," a spokesperson for The Pokémon Company said in an emailed statement. "You can see how we currently use personal data within our other apps on our website here .”

Sleep’s a big market, and up until now snoozing has been the only time that you physically can’t contribute data (or value) to a job or platform. So, it’s not necessarily surprising that game developers wants to gamify snoozing.

“We can think of the evolution of video games as a race to capture new spaces and parts of our everyday life,” Paolo Pedercini, a game designer and associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told VICE. “The bedroom is one of the spaces that are still relatively untouched by play technologies. Sleep patterns are valuable source of data for marketers, so there will be attempts to monetize them. The gamification/commodification of sex and dreams are likely to be the next steps. Unless, of course, we stop centering our whole economy on the business of screwing people over.”

The corporations are coming for your sleep, your eyeballs, and even your brainwaves—nothing is safe, but at least you can catch ‘em all.

Have thoughts? Swing by the Waypoint forums to share them!

Update: This article has been updated with comment from The Pokémon Company.