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Now, go on electric dates!

March 22, 2005

You are having dinner with your date.

You want to know whether s/he is enjoying the meal or not.

You might have your answer in a new device invented by James Larsson. This device wires up cutlery with electrodes that can pick up emotions!

How this works

These electrodes, which are attached to regular eating utensils like knives and forks, analyse data from the cutlery to let you know how your dinner companion is feeling. 

This means the system relies on electrodes to measure the skin's resistance to electric charge. When you are suddenly stressed, your skin's resistance plummets, partly because any sweat released under these circumstances facilitates the movement of an electrical charge.

Larsson designed specialised software on the machine to which the fork and knife relay information. The programme selects data from only those electrodes touching the hand at a given time and ignores the ones without contact.

He also attached strain gauges to the utensils. These run to the computer, preventing the system from mistaking increased pressure as heightened stress.

The result is a computer that produces graphs to show when the person eating feels uncomfortable and when they are more relaxed.

The catch

There's a catch to this system, though. Many wires are needed to connect the knife and fork to a computer monitor. Since dates must hold both utensils to allow the small, stress-measuring current to run through their body, the device does not work when someone eats holding only a fork.

Alice Mendes, a 25-year old consultant who is single and ready to mingle, thinks it is a tempting proposition, especially for a first date.

"You cannot read another person's mind," she says, "so it would help to know what the person is feeling inside without having to get into his head. For instance, if the other person is only pretending to like you or is appearing interested in what you have to say or not having such you great time, you will know with this new, slightly bizarre invention."

Tried Mood Rings?

Yet another fun thing to try out are Mood Rings, which change colour according to your body temperature.

The mechanism behind these is that they contain liquid crystals which react to changes in temperature due to the generation of body heat.

Says Avinash, a software engineer who wears one compulsorily, "I wear one all the time. On a date, it works as an ice-breaker. Of course, my date always wants to try it on. And when she does, I get an insight into what she is feeling."

Some indicators for you

  • Dark blue signifies you are in the mood for romance or feeling passionate.
  • Grey indicates you are very nervous or anxious.
  • Black could mean you are very stressed out.

Where can you get these?

Pick it up on the sidewalks of Colaba Causeway, south Mumbai, or Connaught Place, Delhi, for Rs 100, along with a colour chart, which works as a key. 

With inputs from Merril Diniz


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