The ESPER machine is a fictional device used in the 1982 Ridley Scott film Blade Runner for extraction of 3D data from a 2D image.

‘In fiction, an Esper is an individual capable of telepathy and other similar paranormal abilities. The term was apparently coined in this sense by Alfred Bester in his 1950 short story “Oddy and Id” and is derived from the abbreviation ESP for extrasensory perception.’

In the film the ESPER machine allows Harrison Ford’s character Deckard to insert a 2D photograph and investigate its properties beyond its initial dimensions through a series of voice commands. At one point (42:27) the ESPER machine acts on its own and Deckard appears to continue on from this action. This is significant because it suggest that a glitch has occurred and revealed something to Deckard which he then continues to peruse. At the end of the investigation Deckard instructs the ESPER to print the manipulated image where he then proceeds to follow up on the lead it presents.

What is most interesting about the ESPER machine is the way it allows its user to interact through analogue inputs (voice and photographs) to digitally examine a problem from another perspective. This could be viewed as a very literal take on the idea of generating a creative leap by shifting the solution space.