Is Pokémon Sleep a next-level nightmare or just a distracting daydream?

The makers of Pokémon Go are making another app that gamifies sleep -- and despite promising better sleep for kids, the app could cause problems.


May 30, 2019

Yesterday, The Pokémon Company announced a new app that will “turn sleeping into entertainment.”

“Pokémon Go turned the simple act of walking into entertainment, making the entire world into a game,” wrote Pikachu’s parent company. “We’re about to do it again, Trainers — this time, for sleeping.”

That’s right, after successfully reshaping physical reality, Pokémon Go is coming for your dreams.

Augmenting reality, evolving sleep

When Pokémon Go launched in 2016, the makers of the app — The Pokémon Company and the game company Niantic — insisted their augmented reality platform offered “incentive to go outside and exercise” and learn more about the world.

But the game — which has earned $2.45B+ in revenue — also encouraged people to walk into robberies, fall into ponds, and let Nintendo draw the physical boundaries of their imaginations.

Now, that process is evolving: Pokémon Sleep claims to offer an incentive to get “a good night’s rest” — and  monetize every marketable minute of our lives, day and night.

Gotta catch ’em all, all the time 

Pokémon Sleep will come with a device called the Pokémon Go Plus + (yes, that’s “plus plus”), a small device that spends the night in your bed collecting data about your sleeping habits.

The device will send sleep data to a smartphone via Bluetooth, rewarding players who get enough sleep — and giving Pikachu’s producers 24/7 access to users and their valuable data.

“We love exploring the world on foot,” John Hanke, the CEO of game-maker Niantic, told The New York Times. “And that can’t happen unless we have the energy to embark on these adventures.”

Pikachu’s next battle: Building a sleep data business

Other companies also want to shape our sleep: Wearable-makers, health insurers, and employers are all desperate to track sleep to lower healthcare costs.

But Pokémon Sleep may get there first — because, let’s face it, Pikachu has a better track record of changing behavior than the healthcare system.

Pokémon products promise to help kids play and sleep well. But will over-augmenting reality also shrink their imaginations to a single Poké-verse that a multibillion-dollar game company dreamt up?

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