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BlackBerry Empathy concept phone gets us all emotional

A BlackBerry-sponsored design competition has produced the Empathy, a concept device that lets you see your contacts' emotional state. It also looks nuttier than squirrel droppings.

RIM is a serious company that makes serious smart phones. But a BlackBerry-sponsored design competition has produced a concept device that looks nuttier than squirrel droppings: the Blackberry Empathy.

The Empathy is an angular phone that looks absolutely stunning -- and a tad bonkers. Its front is home to an OLED touchscreen that's transparent when not in use, and opaque at other times. It wouldn't be a proper BlackBerry without a physical keyboard, but the Empathy's is located on its back.

Touching the screen anywhere reveals a tabbed control wheel that lets you access your most commonly used features, like email, SMS, contacts, music and the camera. You pull a tab to access the desired feature.

In a nutty sci-fi twist, the phone connects to a biometrics ring which is worn by the user. This ring collects emotional data, by examining the wearer's heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and skin secretions.

This emotional data is made visible to your contacts, so they'll know whether they should leave you alone until you're feeling less fragile, or whether they can go right ahead and pop that balloon next to your ear. You can also see the emotional state of your contacts who are wearing a ring.

We don't think we'll be seeing the Empathy anytime soon, however. Mood rings seem like they're a long way from becoming reality, and you'd also need to know enough people who wear these rings to make this key feature of the Empathy worthwhile. As for the design, it looks smashing but it's not exactly pocket-friendly.

Image credit: Yanko Design