Having to listen to dull and long-winded stories that don’t go anywhere could become a thing of the past thanks to a new gizmo dreamt up by scientists.
The new watch keeps an eye on the tone of your conversation, using AI to asses happiness levels – and some versions can also figure out if you’re being too boring.
The tech could be used in smartwatches or smartphones, delivering a little vibration if the conversation seems to be plummeting – useful for first dates and job interviews.
Developed by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the watch comes with sensors that monitor heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow, temperature and movement.
Some versions also make audio recordings of the conversation to assess pitch, energy levels and vocabulary.
An algorithm was developed to analyse the tone of the conversation, and it came out with an 83% accuracy rate. Signs of poor chat included pauses, monotony and fidgeting.
This prototype is very much about the wearer’s state but the researchers also say it could be developed to read all sides of the conversation, and could prove invaluable to people with conditions like Asperger’s and autism.
“Imagine if, at the end of a conversation, you could rewind it and see the moments when the people around you felt the most anxious,” Tuka Al Hanai, one of the team, explained.
“Our work is a step in this direction, suggesting that we may not be that far away from a world where people can have an intelligent social coach right in their pocket — a judgmental, objective, personal social coach.”
The researchers want to help people understand the emotional intent behind the words that people use. For example, “good luck” can be used genuinely or menacingly depending on the delivery and context.
Al Hanai added, “The consequences of misreading emotional intent can be severe, particularly in high-stakes social situations such as salary negotiations or job interviews.
“For those afflicted by chronic social disabilities such as Asperger’s syndrome, the inability to read subtle cues can lead to a variety of negative consequences, from social isolation to depression.
“Our next step is to improve the algorithm so that it is more accurate at calling out boring, tense, and excited moments, rather than just labelling interactions as positive or negative.”