If anyone can make bold predictions about the future of online dating, it’s industry game-changer and Tinder CEO Sean Rad. This month at the StartUp Grind Global Conference in California, he shared that dating apps could soon be using augmented reality technology to help users meet.
He explained that the technology would help people meet in real time, and work similarly to Pokemon Go. For instance, if you walk down the street and point your smartphone at someone you find attractive, you can find out immediately whether or not they are single. And if you are single and dating, you could also send virtual signals to someone you pass, letting them know you’re interested. This could work through technology like Google Glass as well as your phone.
Rad got the idea from so-called traffic-light parties, where attendees wear red clothing to let others know they are taken, and yellow and green clothing to let people know they are interested or open to dating. With augmented reality, people could use technology that followed the same simple rules to make things easy – using virtual color signals to convey their relationship status. Singles interested in dating could send a green or yellow light signal through their phones, while those in relationships could send a red light signal.
In addition, the augmented reality technology could act as a virtual matchmaker and speak to you, letting you know how compatible you might be with someone who you find attractive based on mutual hobbies, background and interests. According to UK newspaper The Daily Mail, Rad said that this type of virtual matchmaker could act like Siri, and let you know when a potential date’s calendar is free and offer to book a dinner reservation.
Rad’s vision might not be far off. After all, Google and Facebook already have a lot of information about each of us, including relationship status, workplace, networks of friends, and also what events each of us has planned or joined. It wouldn’t be complicated to take the next step to connect people, look up mutual interests, and see when two people are free to schedule a date through an augmented reality dating app.
This might be an unwelcome addition to the digital world. There is the issue of privacy. Some people may not want to know someone’s status just by walking past them on the street, especially before talking to them. And for some, it might become exhausting to be endlessly informed of potential dates, and for others it might become daunting to approach people in real life just because you know they are single. Sometimes, the relative anonymity and distance a dating app provides is less stressful to the average dater.
Online dating might be headed in this direction, which is both intriguing and a little frightening. But as we’ve learned from the double-edged sword of dating apps, the real question is: will it help people to form relationships in real life, or become a hindrance to intimacy and connection?