Un Kyu Lee's Dr. Love Puts a Classic "Love Tester" GSR Machine in Your Pocket

Powered by CircuitPython on a Raspberry Pi RP2040, this take on the classic "love tester" arcade machine considerably shrinks the device.

Developer Un Kyu Lee has built a business card-sized gadget to mimic the functionality of the classic "love tester" arcade machine — and, maybe, help you find the love of your life.

"Dr. Love is the ultimate gadget to test if your partner is in love with you or just kind of meh," Lee explains of the gadget, which is designed in the style of a functional business card for a fictional divorce attorney. "Simply place your fingers on Dr. Love, and it will reveal if neither of you, both of you, or just one of you is in love. Thankfully, it won't spill the beans on which one of you is the lovesick puppy."

The perfect icebreaker, or relationship-breaker? Dr. Love delivers compatibility testing in a compact package. (📹: Un Kyu Lee)

The concept behind the device is the same as the classic "love tester" machines, which adorned arcade halls and drinking establishments for decades: the user, or in this case users, touches a metal contact that measures their galvanic skin response — effectively checking how sweaty they are. "Now, think about when you're nervous — like when you're trying to figure out if someone you care about loves you back," Lee explains. "You might sweat a little more, right? That's where Dr. Love comes in.

"This technology is used in lie detectors. You know, one of the quirks of lie detectors is their tendency to falter when someone's feeling a bit jittery or excited. But hey, I'm flipping that defect on its head and turning it into a plus. Why not? Think about it: when you're face-to-face with someone you adore, those heart-fluttering moments can easily send your nerves into overdrive. And guess what? That's exactly what I'm banking on with Dr. Love! We're taking those moments of excitement and turning them into a little game of love detection. It's like taking a glitch and turning it into a feature!"

Inside the 3D-printed Dr. Love casing is a Waveshare RP2040-LCD-0.96 development board, combining a compact 0.96" LCD panel with a Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller. This is powered by a LIR2032 battery and linked to nickel strips through 2k Ohm resistors — serving as the sensors. A CircuitPython-based firmware takes care of measuring the users' galvanic skin response and ascertaining, wholly unscientifically, if they're a match in love.

The project's source code, with wiring instructions, is available on GitHub under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license; a DIY kit of parts is available on Lee's Tindie store at $69, or $98 full-assembled.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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