Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are developing software that measures how interested a phone caller is in your conversation.
The Jerk-O-Meter analyses speech patterns and tonal changes to measure on a scale of one to 100 how engaged the subject is about the call.
If it detects that the recipient is losing interest in the call it flashes up messages like 'Don't be a jerk!' or 'Be a little nicer now'.
"The Jerk-O-Meter is a real-time speech feature analysis application that runs on your VoIP phone or cellphone that remedies precisely that experience," said a spokesman for the Human Dynamics Group at MIT Media Lab.
"It uses speech features for activity and stress (and soon empathy) to measure if you are 'being a jerk' on the phone.
"The phone displays messages in case you are, and can be set up to inform the person on the other end of the line that you're extremely busy."
The final code should be ready next year and the first applications will probably be in the telesales industry.
The MIT Media Lab's other projects include mathematical modelling of conversations during speed dating to improve the chances of getting a date, and cinema audience monitoring tools that can gauge reactions to a film.
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