Empathetic Input

Empathetic Input is a USB interrupt controlled by plants. Meant to create a more empathetic space around computer interaction, but also to create a benefit to plant life by sacrificing some of the convenience we enjoy as humans.

Empathetic Input is a plant connected USB interrupt that sits between a mouse and computer, and forces users into expressing empathetic behaviour when engaging with their computers. The piece uses a sensor to read moisture levels in a plant’s soil to determine whether the user is caring for the plant properly, in which case it will allow power to flow to the mouse. Empathetic Input plays with the inherent empathy that goes into caring for plant-life by forcing users to exhibit this behaviour in order to use their device. This pushes interaction to be driven by empathy, instead the host of other emotions that drive us to use technology.

The piece not only creates a digital interruption in the system, but also a physical interrupt between the mouse in the user’s hand, and the cable that connects it to the computer. This shifts the traditional 1:1 balance of life-to-tech involved in using a mouse. In this 2:1 biology to technology system, the plant acts as a mediator between the person and computer, shifting the dynamic and taking control of the input away from the human.

Empathetic Input also shifts the emotional dynamic of computer use, pushing a user away from being driven by a desire to access content by adding a layer of compassionate behaviour before they can do so. By giving control to plants, which are typically not involved in this interaction, it technically fails to create the optimal experience for the human. However, it provides a greater understanding of the ramifications of human behaviour. Specifically, it helps a user take greater care in making decisions of how to interact with the computer.

  • About Project


  • Media

    Plant, Mouse, Custom PCB

  • Year