Sleep

Music, Health & AI: Making Unwind.ai with Marconi Union

Music, Health & AI: Making Unwind.ai with Marconi Union

Hear our exclusive interview with Richard Talbot and Duncan Meadows of Marconi Union from the critically-acclaimed Marconi Union, about the creative process behind “Adrift”, the first composition available through Unwind.ai, and their views on modern music technology, artificial intelligence and generative approaches to music for health.

Sync Project at Design Indaba, WIRED Health

CEO Marko Ahtisaari was invited to speak at two international conferences this year (Design Indaba Festival and WIRED Health with more upcoming, including the Near Future Summit) on the promising indications in research into the use of music as medicine and launching UNWIND, a personalized music experiment to help you relax before sleep.

Sync Project collaborated with critically-acclaimed musicians Marconi Union to create this unique responsive music experience. This is a new kind of music made by combining machine learning and human musicianship, personalized to your unique physiology. All with a view to improving your relaxation and sleep.

While the therapeutic use of music is a long standing tradition in cultures around the world, efforts to integrate music into modern evidence-based healthcare practice is much newer phenomenon. Scientists in fields from neuroscience and psychiatry to physical therapy have also taken in interest in further understanding the health effects of music. This research is uncovering more cases where music may have significant health effects than we might have ever imagined.

Sync Project launches UNWIND - personalized music designed to improve relaxation before sleep

Today, at Design Indaba in Cape Town, we're launching a world first - Unwind - an exclusive personalized music experience to help you relax before sleep.  

Anyone interested in relaxation and better sleep with the help of music can participate using their smartphone at unwind.ai. It is free to participate.

Sync Project has collaborated with critically-acclaimed musicians Marconi Union to create this unique responsive music experience. This is a new kind of music made by combining machine learning and human musicianship, personalized to your unique physiology. All with a view to improving your relaxation and sleep.

Before the music starts you will be asked to hold your phone while still for a few seconds and we will "magically" determine your heart rate. The music will then begin to play using your heart rate as input and then gradually help you unwind from there. We will also ask you about your perceived state of relaxation before and after the music.

You can try the experience only once or as many times as you like. We hope you'll enjoy the personalized experience as much as we do, and we recommend trying the pre-sleep music for at least seven days.  

So why launch Unwind in Cape Town at Design Indaba? Cape Town has been nicknamed “Slaapstad”, loosely “Sleepy Town”. This is a play on the Afrikaans name for Cape Town, "Kaapstad", and the Afrikaans word for sleep, "slaap". While we take no position on this, we've heard that Cape Town is often considered to have a slow, chilled-out pace of life, compared to, say, Johannesburg! 

So tonight, Slaapstad will put the world to sleep! At Design Indaba, Sync Project is inviting all friends of design and creativity around the world to participate in this grand experiment, and to personally experience the relaxing and sleep improving effects of music. We will share results from this global experiment later this year.

 

About Sync Project

Sync Project is developing music as precision medicine. Intuitively we know the power that music has over us. We all self-medicate with music. Recent research has shown that music affects the same neural pathways that are regulated by psychostimulants and other drugs. Sync Project is building on this foundation and partnering with the world’s leading scientists and musicians on the first-ever large-scale studies to measure how the structural properties of music – like beat, key and timbre – impact biometrics such as heart rate, brain activity and sleep patterns. Sync Project is applying machine learning to this dataset to commercialize personalized music therapeutics.

Sync Project was co-founded by Marko Ahtisaari, Ketki Karanam, Yadid Ayzenberg and PureTech Health. Advisors include musicians Peter Gabriel, St. Vincent, Jon Hopkins and Esa-Pekka Salonen, as well as neuroscientists Robert Zatorre and Adam Gazzaley. 

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About Marconi Union:

Marconi Union – founder members Richard Talbot and Jamie Crossley with Duncan Meadows who joined in 2012 – are thought to be “amongst today's most talented musicians” (The Sunday Times). They have continually steadily developed and refined a unique musical identity, evoking emotions from gracefully blending elements of dub, jazz, ambience and electronica within their richly melodic compositions. 

Their music is perfection: measured and solemn on occasion, misty and dreamy on others, discordant and grating as well, but always underpinned with a hint of experimentation that pushes boundaries, setting out to challenge as well as to entertain. They are never afraid to accept the challenge of making new music rather than just repeating their earlier work.

Marconi Union are probably best known internationally for ‘Weightless’, (“One of the most popular ambient tracks of all time” Yahoo), claimed to be the most relaxing track in the world with its tens of millions of streams and YouTube views, even earning the accolade of being named as one of the 'Best Inventions Of The Year' by Time Magazine). They were delighted to be approached by The Sync Project and commissioned to create a new generative composition for them, ‘Adrift’, which will be tuned to the individual listener as part of the Sync Project’s ‘Unwind’ App and which in consequence may never play in the same way twice.

Where To Next For Functional Music?

Music classification is now less about genre and more about mood, with listeners often building their digital playlists for a specific occasion or activity. It’s music with a purpose – or functional music – and it promises to get even more interesting as scientific inquiry comes into play. The Sync Project muses on what could happen next… 

Sleep To Get Stronger

Exercising intensely but not getting the results you are looking for? The reason may not lie in what goes on at the gym but in what happens outside of it. In addition to factors like diet, sleep is one of the most important but often overlooked components of building a strong, healthy body. Recent scientific findings are presenting an interesting picture of why muscle strength is important for health, and how sleep plays an important part in helping you grow stronger.

Sleep To Work Smarter

Digitization is transforming work and the demands that are posed on humans. As simple work tasks become automated, the cognitive requirements of human work grow. And, as more is required from your most important work tool – the brain – the ways in which you take care of your cognition and mental fitness not only matters for health, but also for work performance. One of the easiest, most powerful, and also most enjoyable ways of ensuring high cognitive performance is taking care of the quality of your sleep.

Music Listening is Effective for Treatment of Sleep Disorders

Sleep is highly important for health in terms of recovery and is essential for learning and forming memories. Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease several important cognitive abilities such as creative and flexible thinking, planning, and effective communication. It is also connected to a wide range of health problems including severe medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression. Sleep medication may provide easy relief but interest in non-medical ways to support sleep quality is growing. Recent evidence from research shows that music holds great promise in treatment of sleep disorders.