Ever worried your conversations might be boring? Well help could be at hand from a watch that gives a warning buzz if you’ve started droning on.
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a device worn on the wrist that uses artificial intelligence to read the tone of conversations.
The wristband of the device is loaded with sensors that capture physiological data such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow, temperature and movement.
The MIT team combined that information with audio recordings to analyse a conversation’s pitch, energy levels and vocabulary in the development of an algorithm that assesses the tone with an 83% accuracy level.
It understands happy, sad or neutral tones and some versions could tell you if you’re boring others by collecting negative signs such as pauses, fidgeting and putting a hand to one’s face.
The device could be linked to smartphones that would then vibrate if a conversation was going downhill, researchers said.
The prototype focuses on the wearer, but later versions could also analyse audio from all sides of a conversation, telling us whether the people we are with are still interested in what we are saying.
One of the team, Tuka Al Hanais, said in future people could have an “intelligent social coach right in their pocket – a judgemental, objective, personal social coach”.
It could also help people who suffer from conditions such as autism who struggle to read emotional cues. Ms Al Hanais said: “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 Asperger’s syndrome, the inability to read subtle cues can lead to a variety of negative consequences, from social isolation to depression.”