Couple Conflict with video 600x270

Health parameters aren’t all measured with blood tests or conventional biometric sensors. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if mood rings were real and could transmit wireless messages to alert people in relationships when their significant others were out-of-sorts?

In the same vein, quality-of-life researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering‘s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL) and the USC Dornsife College of Arts, Letters and Sciences used multi-modal sensors to detect conflict between couples. The research, Using Multimodal Wearable Technology to Detect Conflict among Couples, was published earlier this year by the IEEE Computer Society. The goal of the study was to learn if monitoring couples’ behavior unobtrusively with mobile sensing technologies could have the potential to improve daily lives. Called the Couple Mobile Sensing Project, the researchers developed algorithms to analyze data from various sources. The data, including body temperature, heart activity, sweat, language content, and vocal intensity, was used to assess emotional states. According to the study, the algorithms were up to 86 percent accurate detecting conflict between couples, based on hourly self-reports of conflict by the participants.

The next steps in the research involve enabling the software to develop or suggest interventions either during or prior to a conflict occurring. It’s easy to imagine follow-on developments extending to all family members, friends, co-workers, and colleagues. Implications for negotiations and poker tables also come to mind, especially with unobtrusive signaling.