Currently valued at around $2.5bn, the technology of global online dating market is expected to grow to a staggering $3.5bn by 2025. The science helping people find love—and indeed the artistry behind its packaging—is evolving at lightning speed as the dating landscape becomes ever more hyperconnected and technologically innovative. That means competition is rampant, as companies worldwide endeavour to eliminate the safety concerns when pairing two strangers, and optimise matchmaking methods despite their almost inherent mystery. Such problems aren’t as prevalent among professional matchmakers by dint of their expert background checks, in-depth screening processes, and personal interviews with prospective members. But the vast majority of potential dates seek a more affordable gateway to dating—and present a mind-bogglingly vast reservoir of untapped revenue to the savvy dating scientist.
So as startups race to fill the gap of technology—some of them with no less a vision than to become a universal cupid for billions across the world—what technologies and science are they leveraging to realise their ambitious aims?
As opposed to virtual reality (VR), which gives the user a purely digital view of a landscape, augmented reality (AR) overlays visuals or audio on real life. VR eclipses the user’s world to present a new reality, whereas the AR experience is less jarring, which in the long run may make the technology a more socially acceptable medium for dating. AR is already being used by such companies as FlirtAR, which brands itself as the world’s first AR dating app. Their vision: enable people to connect in real life—and right there in the moment—by utilising geolocation to put matches right in front of them.
A primary challenge faced by online dating entrepreneurs is people’s lack of trust when meeting strangers on a virtual platform. Dating apps do have identity systems in place, but they’re generally rudimentary, easily tricked by bad actors. And as app accessibility becomes an increasingly pivotal selling point in order to provide members with quick and convenient dating options, people can now join up in moments. Fake profiles and scammers are ubiquitous.
But with the advent of blockchain, the possibilities for brand-new identity management systems are staggering. Companies such as Viola.AI and Hicky use blockchain to enhance transparency between users, validate their identities via voice and face recognition, and encrypt this data before storing it in the blockchain.
DNA Romance is a dating app matching singletons based on the secrets locked inside their genes. Its raison d’être draws from Swiss biologist Claus Wedekind’s famous 1995 study, often dubbed the sweaty T-shirt experiment, which found that people with highly contrasting major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes—and whose immune systems therefore differ greatly—display much higher romantic chemistry than singletons with similar MHC genes.
According to Tim Sexton, CEO and Technical Founder of DNA Romance, we’re attracted to people with immune systems different from our own because our offspring will have resistance to a more diverse array of pathogens, which secures them greater odds of survival. This technology is right here with us—people are already ordering DNA collection kits and uploading their DNA files to find matches.
There’s a lot of hope among dating scientists that artificial intelligence (AI) might end the era of scrolling, swiping, and searching. AI has the capacity to ‘know’ users inside-out by gathering in-app behavioural data and dispensing it to machine learning algorithms, which curate more relevant matches based on beliefs, personality traits, and core values. The highest-profile dating apps are already using AI to some extent, including Hinge, Badoo, Tinder, and Coffee Meets Bagel.
In the future, AI might even act as a digital matchmaker, arranging real-life dates and providing coaching and feedback. There’s already at least one forerunner to this: AIMM (Artificially Intelligent Matchmaker), which leverages AI to emulate a human matchmaking service. There’s no tapping or swiping, no filling out a profile. With AIMM, users speak to the app for a week so it can explore their personality, before they’re introduced to matches via audio snippets and photo tours.
Tomorrow’s matchmaking market
The dating industry brings in professionals from myriad fascinating backgrounds, not least developers, geneticists, and entrepreneurs. The challenge for these visionaries is to build digital tools that emulate—or indeed even outperform—human matchmakers. But will AR truly empower people to connect in real life, or will privacy concerns ultimately prevail? Is it realistic to expect masses of singles to hand over their biological blueprints to find love? Can dating apps use AI and blockchain to screen users as effectively as matchmaking companies conducting interviews and performing background checks? And if so, would the average singleton willingly forgo the human touch for a bot?
One thing’s for certain: the dating landscape is set to transform beyond all recognition in a handful of years’ time. There are opportunities galore for forward-thinking and innovative dating scientists, and new players will continue to emerge and vie for the top spot currently occupied by Tinder. Existing matchmakers and online dating companies would be wise to take many of these technological developments with a pinch of salt, however. There’s still a huge amount to be said for traditional matchmaking methods which are literally millennia in the making. I should know.
Maclynn (formerly Vida) is an elite, multi-award-winning international dating agency. Our global network of impressive singletons benefit from our tried and trusted practices, which have generated hundreds of successful long-term relationships over our proud 10-year history. Get in touch today, and experience the power of your own personal matchmaker, who gets to know what drives you, what motivates you—and your most valued characteristics in a partner.