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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
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BladeRunner Voigt-Kampff machine

The Voight-Kampff test was a test used by the LAPD's Blade Runners to assist in determining whether or not an individual was a replicant. The machine used in the test measured bodily functions such as respiration, heart rate, blushing and pupillary dilation in response to emotionally provocative questions. It typically took twenty to thirty cross-referenced questions to detect a Nexus-6 replicant.[1]


The test was utilized by the LAPD Blade Runner unit from its formation in 2009. The department's first Blade Runner, Cal Moreaux, asked Asa to create a version of the test to use on Blade Runner candidates.[2]

In November 2019, the test was conducted by Dave Holden on the Nexus-6 replicant Leon Kowalski, who suddenly became violent during questioning and shot Holden.[1]

Deckard Testing Rachael

Deckard using the test on Rachael

Later, Rick Deckard was ordered to perform the test at the Tyrell Corporation by his superior, Harry Bryant, on the Nexus-7,[3] Rachael. With her test, it took over one hundred questions to determine her nature. Puzzled at the results at first, Deckard was informed by Eldon Tyrell that Rachael was an "experiment" a replicant with implanted memories.[1]

Rachael later asked Deckard if he had taken the Voight-Kampff test, but did not receive an answer, as he was asleep.[1]

Joseph Testing Elle

Joseph using the test on Elle

In 2023, Harper was ordered by Gaff to conduct the test upon an apprehended suspect named Lazarus.[4]

In 2032, Joseph conducted the test on Elle to ease her mind about her possible status as a replicant. Based on the readings, Joseph determined that she was simply a recovering amnesiac.[5]

The test was still used as of 2037 in order to detect Nexus-8s. The more advanced Nexus-9s could not be detected by the Voight-Kampff test.[6]

Behind the scenes[]


Concept art by Syd Mead

"A very advanced form of lie detector that measures contractions of the iris muscle and the presence of invisible airborne particles emitted from the body. The bellows were designed for the latter function and give the machine the menacing air of a sinister insect. The VK is used primarily by Blade Runners to determine if a suspect is truly human by measuring the degree of his empathic response through carefully worded questions and statements."

Blade Runner presskit

The test originally appears in Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, where it is spelled "Voigt-Kampff."

The Voight-Kampff machine is perhaps analogous to (and may have been partly inspired by) Alan Turing's work which propounded an artificial intelligence test — to see if a computer could convince a human (by answering set questions, etc.) that it was another human. The phrase Turing test was popularised by science fiction but was not used until years after Turing's death.

The VK test is also strongly reminiscent of the polygraph - a type of lie detector test that measures physiological responses against a pre-established baseline in order to determine whether or not a lie is being told. The line 'Just warming you up, that's all.' spoken by Holden to Leon in the opening scene suggests that a similar baseline is being established.

Also worthy of note is the 'fruit machine', a device developed for use in the Canadian military that aimed to measure pupillary dilation in response to erotic imagery in order to determine whether the subject was homosexual.

The eye footage seen on the machine's screen was stock footage secured from Oxford Scientific. Some actors, such as Brion James, had their own eyes filmed, but for budgetary reasons, it was decided to use only stock footage.[7]

See also[]