The novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick is a story set in a post-apocalyptic world where radiation poisoning has seriously affected Earth and its inhabitants. Especially highlighted in the novel are the empathic abilities that are innate to humans, allowing them to relate to others, even animals. An Android race coexisting with humans is an interesting twist featured in the book, as most Androids are hiding in secrecy–attempting to appear as human as possible to avoid the agendas of opposing forces.

The key difference between Androids and humans is their emotional sensitivity, with the former group lacking entirely in this regard. In order to live the Androids must learn empathy via the ‘Empathy Box’.

The following creative work is an adaptation of Dick’s novel and the concept of the Empathy Box. ‘telEmpathy’ is a machine that allows users (individual and the collective) to tap into to emotional experiences felt by others, in an effort to promote empathy–and wellbeing in general.

This project was recorded as a short movie with an interactive element that extends outside of the screen so that users can live the experience. The telEmpathy orbs allow the user to tune into the emotional experience once touched.

Technical: 2 BlinkM MaxM LED units, fitted inside foam-filled glass jars, wired to an Arduino board running custom-made scripts from BlinkM LED Sequencer.

Short Movie + Interactive Experience Design by Harjot Bal, Cathy Chen and Maayan Cohen

telEmpathy Interaction & Reaction Video

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