Hearsay / Othering Machines

Simulating Communication Dynamics

Hearsay (or Othering Machines) is an experimental setup for the simulations of social communication dynamics. A multitude of (structurally and functionally) identical devices communicate via the exchange of sound waves. The exchanged frequencies are stored in the devices’ databases and represented by the composition of a multicolor LED.


Once the database is full (or, from the onset on, with respect to the running program), the modules start to check the existence of the incoming data in their database, so that either a positive reaction (repeat the same frequency subsequently) or a negative reaction (respond the closest known frequency) is induced.

By the mere arrangement of the modules, the dynamics of different constellations can be investigated. Distances of neighboring modules, sound amplitudes and the sensitivity of the microphones are crucial for signal transmission. Thus, different arrangements will engender different communication mechanisms and by that, represent individual social structures.

A set of eight devices is prepared for interaction. All of them start with [3] [random] sounds in their database.

The lights represent the different database compositions.

After some time of sound exchanges via speakers and microphones the modules start to adopt to each other’s emitted frequencies.

Slowly, mechanisms of sound adoption become noticeable through a change of color.

When enough time has passed, all devices would glow in the (red) color according to the most prevailing exchanged data.


The project is still ongoing (3.1.2018)! Experiments on group formations and signal transmission dynamics will be conducted. HEC GmbH sponsors the project and enables the serial production of a multitude of devices, which will be finished by summer 2018.