You’re mid-conversation and suddenly the person you are talking to breaks eye contact. Itches. Shifts around a bit. Looks over your shoulder. And inside you are thinking ‘Are they sending out signals to be rescued? Am I boring? Is it me or them? I am boring aren’t I?’
There’s an app on its way to end this uncertainty. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing one which can assess the tone of your conversation. You’ll wear it on your wrist like a Fitbit and while you chat it will be collecting data, analysing just about everything about you: Tone of voice, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and motion. It’ll also be able to capture audio data (Oh God) and text transcripts to analyse your tone, pitch, energy and vocabulary.
The thing will then give a ‘sentiment’ score for specific five second intervals in a conversation. So instead of getting home and lying in bed replaying everything in your head for hours, you will be able to actually work out if and when it all went wrong. By downloading the metrics and agonising, sorry analysing, exactly what was said and when you lost your audience.
Down the line the researchers want to extend the app’s reach to include how your date is reacting too. So you could have data on the points in the conversation when their heart rate slowed to semi-conscious mode. Or they started thinking about tomorrow’s lunch. At which point performance anxiety may put an end to all conversation. Maybe it’s for the best. Are you even still here?