Empathetic Living Media

In the fast paced modern world people are generally too busy to monitor various significant social or human aspects of their lives, such as time spent with their family, their overall health, state of the ecology, etc.

Empathetic Living Media


By quantifying such information digitally, information is semantically coupled into living microorganisms, E. coli. Through the use of transformed DNA, the E. coli will then glow or dim according to the data.

The core technical innovation of this system is the development of an information system based on a closed-loop control system through which digital input is able to control input fluids to the E. coli, and thereby control the output glow of the E. coli in real time. Thus, social or ecological based information is coupled into a living and organic media through this control system capsule and provides a living media which promotes empathy.


Empathetic Living Media

We provide user design and feedback results to verify the validity of our hypothesis, and provide not only system results but generalized design frameworks for empathetic living media in general.

This work has been shared in international venues and publications including the following:

Merritt, T., Cheok, A.D., O.N.N. Fernando, Peiris, R.L., Fernando, C.L., Empathetic Biological Media. Workshop “Programming reality: from transitive materials to organic user interfaces”. The 27th Annual CHI Conference, Human Factors in Computing Systems CHI 2009 (Boston, MA, USA, April 4 – 5, 2009).

A.D. Cheok, R.T.K.C. Tan, T. Merritt, O.N.N. Fernando, Y.P. Sen and D.T.K. Nguyen. 2008. Empathetic Living Media. ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems DIS 2008, February 2008, Cape Town, South Africa, pp. 465-473.