Live: Samsung Unpacked Live Updates Galaxy S23 Ultra First Look Apple's iOS 16.3 Release 9 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month Best Indoor Plants HomePod 2nd-Gen Review 12 Best Cardio Workouts Salami, Sausage Recalled
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

Wearable warns when you and your lover are about to fight

Commentary: Researchers at the University of Southern California believe they've developed technology that predicts lovers' tiffs 86 percent of the time.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

No more fighting? Where's the fun in that?

No more fighting? Where's the fun in that?

Getty Images

Technology is slowly taking away our competencies and muting our need to be aware of our surroundings -- including other people.

We rather like it.

We feel unburdened. Our phones can give us opinions and even answers. We can just sit and stare.

The next step in allowing us to calmly take leave of our senses comes from the University of Southern California.

Its researchers have taken it on themselves to create technology that defuses lovers' tiffs before they happen. The aim is to ensure that no shoes, bottles of beer, or words than can never be forgiven are ever tossed in anger.

A joint project between the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC Dornsife College of Arts, Letters and Sciences created a wearable that the researchers call "a sort of seismometer of the shakes, rattles and rolls in a relationship."

The first step, of course, was to quantify the amount of tension in a relationship. Everything is a number these days. So the researchers grabbed every possible gadget that a couple might use and analyzed body temperature, heart activity, sweat, and audio recordings. They even threw in an assessment of language content and vocal intensity.

Would you wear this to prevent marital strife?


Once they'd completed their analysis, they injected it into their proprietary algorithm. The result? The researchers claim their algorithm was up to 86 percent successful in detecting conflict episodes between lovers.

The researchers say they now have the basis of a wearable that can send notifications to lovers five minutes before they scream at each other, slam doors or even utter an intemperate hiss.

The idea isn't, however, to make money from the device. This is research-only.

"Our overarching goal, and hope, is to develop technologies for measuring and analyzing human bio-behavioral processes in natural settings to improve our scientific understanding of the human condition," Shri Narayanan, the engineering lead on the study, told me.

The boffins see not only benefits to lasting love, but improvements to human health, as someone is warned to go meditate for 10 minutes instead of launching a tirade at an innocent partner.

Not everyone reacts to conflict the same way, however.

"We hope to be able incorporate signal-derived prompts to improve relationship functioning and to expand to develop individualized models," Adela Timmons, graduate researcher in psychology on the study, told me. "We know that all people do not react the same way during arguments or when feeling upset."

But what if this technology does eliminate relationship woes? Won't it make life a little too sanitized? Won't it destroy the joys of make-up sex?

And what are the French and Italians going to make movies about?

It's Complicated: This is dating in the age of apps. Having fun yet? These stories get to the heart of the matter.

Batteries Not Included: The CNET team shares experiences that remind us why tech stuff is cool.