ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and is used to label videos that are dedicated to that: to relax us by showing us things that were always there. We find ourselves in a world full of screens, images, and sounds in which it is difficult to attract the viewer’s attention, used to hyper-realistic video games and overwhelming special effects. In addition, it is increasingly difficult to discern between what is real or a lie with deep fakes of world leaders or celebrities.
Our brains have too much to process these days, indeed.
In this context, teenagers are no longer just looking for entertainment when consuming video. Some research analyzing this phenomenon concludes that the viewer seeks these contents to respond to several needs: self-evaluation and improvement, sensory stimulation and relaxation, entertainment, escapism, and passing the time or following trends. In other words, teenagers who tirelessly consume hours of video are no longer looking for entertainment from a strict point of view, but for pleasure through image consumption. The audience is anesthetized to the audiovisual impact and seeks new experiences that could be categorized as sound porn.
The ASMR trend has continued to grow in popularity in recent years. Five years ago, a study by Swansea University found that nearly one-third of the population of the United Kingdom has experienced ASMR. The study also found that ASMR is most popular among people in their 20s and 30s, with nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds reporting experiencing ASMR. ASMR is also becoming increasingly popular in the US. Four years ago, ASMR videos were the seventh most popular type of videos on YouTube in the United States. The study also found that the number of ASMR videos on YouTube has increased by more than 350% since 2014.
However, trends have evolved so much since 2017, that it is no longer possible to claim that there is only one type of ASMR, and, in fact, this phenomenon has transcended the auditory realm. The most obvious thing we think of when we talk about ASMR is sound, and, by the way, this is called auditory ASMR. This is produced by sound stimuli, either by whispering, playing rhythmic or repetitive sounds such as typing or rubbing hands-on certain objects, which do not necessarily follow a pattern. What some experts point out about the effectiveness of this type of sound stimuli in relaxation has to do with the fact that the brain is not fixing its attention on anything in particular, and, thanks to this, a lot of stress is released.
Now, there is also a visual ASMR, in which lights or objects crossing through the visual field of the individual experiencing the sensation help to release him from his tensions, as well as certain combinations of colors or movements with different objects. Similarly, it is possible to speak of tactile ASMR, in which the manipulation of objects designed for stress release (such as pop-it) produces the same effect as sound ASMR. Finally, there is a type called “situational”, better known as roleplay, which is especially characterized by recreating noises of everyday situations such as going to the barbershop, going to the doctor, or simply the sounds of computer keys being struck.
The reason for this classification of trends has to do with the very concept of ASMR: a spontaneous sensation, with or without control, at its peak, belonging to the world of the senses or sensations and referring to an experience triggered by an internal stimulus.
But ultimately, it is the original ASMR that is the trend that continues to draw the most viewers on millions of YouTube channels, and Tik-Tok and Instagram accounts. This is where binaural technology comes into play, as it can immerse the subject in a sound dream of stimuli that help him/her relax and feel sensations of different natures; something similar to an old trend called “Digital Drug Audio Files”, which consisted of producing sound stimuli that led the subject to experience sensations similar to the effects of some hard drugs. Binaural technology can help create better ASMR experiences, and, mixed with Virtual Reality, will probably become a turning point in the entertainment industry.
Gradually, it could get more specific: ASMR for anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress, etc., not to mention the nascent ASMR for different species of animals (domestic and wild), which could help them relax during stressful situations. The more we learn about the human brain and all its secrets, the more technology opens unsuspected doors that can make our life on earth a better experience. This trend could help to improve sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and others, produced since the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic, which has triggered so many mental illnesses in the world’s population.
If you want to start an ASMR project with sound professionals, who can advise you in the best way, do not hesitate to contact Enhanced Media.