The cheat-catching mattress – and other paranoia-inducing apps

Powered by article titled “The cheat-catching mattress – and other paranoia-inducing apps” was written by Gavin Haynes, for The Guardian on Sunday 17th April 2016 14.59 UTC

Most lovers only want to know the when and the who-with of a cheating partner, but now a Spanish mattress company has decided to go off the deep end when it comes to love-rat TMI.

Durmet’s new £1,200 matress – the Smartress – comes with 24 motion detectors built into the springs – a “lover detection system” that is guaranteed, the makers say, to scan for “suspicious activity” and offer real-time updates, via a phone app, on anyone playing break-the-bed outside of the marriage unit.

It’s certainly not the first product of a coming wave of tech-enabled personal paranoia. Child-tracking apps have been around for so long that they are increasingly accepted as a legitimate part of the parenting process.

While the idea of profiting from people’s fears goes back even further than PR pioneer Edward Bernays, the online options for stoking our real-world insecurities have never been so vast.

Swipebuster in action.
Swipebuster in action. Photograph: Swipebuster



Swipebuster, released this month, will, for a $5 (£3.50) fee, let users figure out whether their SO has been using Tinder. It’s not quite foolproof – clients have to plug in the first name and age of the person concerned, and where they think their partner was last using the app. The system then pulls up all profiles that match those criteria but leaves the user to sift through them for an exact hit.


The Know

The Know uses the debatable tagline “Because ignorance is never bliss” to provide a more subtle version of the widely derided Peeple, in which users input things they know about a person – such as age, height, race, name – and are returned search results of other users who seem to have described the same person. Users can then message each other to gossip anonymously about this crush/partner. The app has been heavily marketed as designed for dating, but there’s no reason for the platform to stop there. It would be just as easy to discuss the insecurities of a local postman or the unsavoury habits of the family doctor.

The Wiper app.
The Wiper app. Photograph: Wiper



Wiper takes the end-to-end encryption of the likes of WhatsApp and adds another level of deniability. At the touch of a button, you can delete a conversation from both your phone and the phone of whoever you’ve been chatting with, as well as from the company’s servers.


SketchFactor aimed, innocently enough, to help urban walkers be more street smart. Whenever a user saw something “sketchy” in an area, they could geo-tag it and, over time, build up a map of the parks, streets or crack houses to be avoided. Unfortunately, the developers seemed to have forgotten that race still maps on to class in America. After Gawker ran a piece entitled Smiling Young White People Make App for Avoiding Black Neighbourhoods, the founders briefly became the most hated techies in America. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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