Ever sat in a chatroom wondering if the 25-year-old Mary you’re getting on famously with is really a 42-year-old plumber called Mark? No, us neither.

Nonetheless a professor from Malaysia claims to have invented a piece of software that can do just that.

At the Geneva Inventions Fair this week Professor Dianne Cheong Lee Mei has been showing off some analysis software that she claims can scan an email or chunk of writing to measure the number of words, exclamation marks and compliments used.

This, claims the professor, is then used to calculate how much emotion is contained within the writing, which is then used to determine the author’s gender.

It’s reported that Professor Lee Mei has thus far refused to explain exactly how the deduction and reasoning process of the software functions. Although she did reveal that women tend to be more expressive when they write and this plays a part in the software’s calculatons.

Of course, it’s hardly the first time something like this has cropped up. Back in 2003 a group of Israeli scientists tried to come up with an algorithm that could determine the gender of a writer.

And for a quick bit of mindless fun there’s always the GenderGenie.