How will we sleep in the future? With our eyes closed. Other than that, we have no idea. We'll most likely lie down on some comfy surface, and rely on some smart-alecky interface to get up in the morning, but we can only guess as to what sleep innovations the next decades will bring. That's why we phoned three leading futurists — people whose job it is to forecast what lies ahead — and asked them to predict the sleeping quarters of the future. Talk of levitation, ever-adapting windows, foldable furniture and full-on AI integration followed. We decided to combine their predictions into one illustration. Take a look and dream of sleeping tighter down the road.
1. Float On
The ideal sleeping surface of the future won’t be a surface at all. Rather, the bed will have a series of air jets that turn on when someone lies down, allowing the sleeper to suspend into mid-air, free of friction. “It will be the ultimate form of sleeping: levitation,” says Thomas Frey, founder and executive director of the DaVinci Institute. Instead of worrying about mattress firmness, sleepers will dial in the power of the jet streams to their specifications. And it has other benefits, too. “Sexual relationships on a levitating bed would be interesting,” says Frey. “It will force people to get rather creative.”
2. Sensors, Sensors, Everywhere
Our sheets and pillows will be so smart, they'd make it into Mensa. They’ll be embedded with chips and sensors that will measure body temperature, heart rate and other vital signs, which will work together to track sleep patterns and calculate ideal wake-up times. “It will be intelligent enough to know who's there, what their needs are, and respond,” Glen Hiemstra, founder and owner of futurist.com, says. Hopefully it’ll know when you’re in need of a nighttime sandwich, too.
3. Smart Shade-Throwing
Window shades will be a thing of the past. Instead, there will be photochromic glass. “It will have the ability to darken to black-out densities,” says author and futurist Michael Rogers. These windows, according to Hiemstra, will double as solar energy generators to help power your home.
4. A Light Touch
Direct light is disruptive to sleep. So rather than feature a single source of light, the bedroom of the future will have ceilings and walls that glow. “It will be solid-state and completely customized,” says Hiemstra. “It will adjust to mimic day/night.” According to Rogers, the sources will probably also double as video screens, which will be ubiquitous in the future.
5. Talk the Talk
Forget the smartphone: Communication of the future will take the form of a headset. Featuring both customized earbuds and glasses, the headset will provide a real-time feed of who you're speaking too as well as let them shop, study and experience the internet in a cleaner, more interactive way. “We’ll see the options of wearable headsets for virtual and augmented reality — like glasses with eye recognition software that will take a picture if you blink,” Hiemstra says.
6. Total Control
Like everything else in the house, heating and cooling systems will be voice-command operated and sensor-enhanced. Per Frey, temperature will be optimized to facilitate not only the best sleep — but also our best selves. “It's not just about comfort, it's about what will make us truly competitive.” And all bedrooms will have strategically built-in wireless speaker setups that provide full surround sound. When it comes time to lie down, environmental sounds or white noise will sync up with the lighting — and the photochromic windows.
7. One Size Fits All
As more and more people get packed into smaller spaces (excuse us, micro apartments), bedrooms will shrink accordingly. The solution? Automated furniture. “You walk into the room and certain furniture appears or disappears to turn a living room into a bedroom,” says Heinstra. "Vertical rooms will make smaller spaces more efficient.” Getting closer and closer to coffins every day.