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U.S. Army Trying to Create Digital Dreams
October 21, 2011
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Looks like Christopher Nolan's not the only one interested in reshaping people's dreams. The U.S. military is working on an experiment called "Power Dreaming," which is intended to help traumatized combat troops battle their nightmares. How will they do it? With digitally created three-dimensional virtual worlds.

At Naval Hospital Bremerton in Washington State, researchers are working on a system that uses 3-D goggles to allow troops who awake from nightmares to escape into a soothing dreamworld. According to research from the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Washington, approximately 52% of soldiers who suffer from PTSD have related nightmares.

In the Power Dreaming scenario, troops would be involved in "creation of the customized healing imagery" that would help them recover from their nightmares, according to a military contracting document. The idea is a twist on biofeedback therapy, where a PTSD sufferer is shown real-time data on their heartrate and other vital signs, and then rewarded with visual cues if they can calm themselves down. The problem is that a lot of sufferers have a hard time conjuring calming imagery when they're suffering from panic or when they've just woken up from a terrible nightmare - hopefully this technology will help them find some peace.

The tech won't roll out until next year, but there are already concerns about privacy and security, both for the Army as a whole and for the individuals involved. Not too surprising: after all, if you'd created your own digital dreams, wouldn't you be worried about someone hacking into them?

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