Rest easy, folks: we know it's pointy at the bottom, but we've been assured this isn't the BlackBerry 7100's true successor. Instead, the so-called Empathy is the bizarre outcome of a RIM-sponsored design project at the Art Center College of Design that touts its ability to detect the emotions of its user and his or her contacts. It's not exactly clear how it'd do that, but one crucial element is the biometric feedback ring that communicates your frustration at the phone's inability to properly sync IMAP accounts in real time. All of this anger and joy is displayed on a social map -- colored rings indicate your contacts' previous and current emotional states -- which is presented on a full touchscreen that can become transparent when the phone's not in use. Prefer the Bold to the Storm, do you? Turn the phone around, and boom, you've got one of the scariest looking portrait QWERTY keyboards the world has ever seen. We don't really anticipate seeing this chiseled slab of bleeding-heart technology in RIM's lineup any time soon... but we can definitely see the benefit to knowing when your BBM contacts are ready to put a fist through a wall. Follow the break for video.

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BlackBerry Empathy design concept feels bad that you're stuck using a BlackBerry