Number one: It’s common these days for people to use technology to look for sex and love. Some stats show that 1 in 4 couples these days have met online. Dating sites and apps like OkCupid and Tinder give us the tools to find the people we are interested in, but we still strongly feel that the choices we make in our partners are our own. It’s not a stretch to think that as the algorithms get better and the technology advances, it’ll do an even better job of matching us with potential partners.
Number two: it’s also increasingly acceptable to buy consumer devices that tell us about what’s going on in our bodies. The Nike Fuelband, the Fitbit, and now the Apple Watch read our biometric data and tell us about our exercise habits and in turn suggest how we can improve ourselves.
Maybe it’s not a stretch to think that we’ll eventually combine these two things.
My final project idea, as mentioned in previous posts, is a True Love Tinder Robot. I want to explore the idea that the computer knows us better than we know ourselves, and that it has a better authority on who we should date than we do. Before I go into the specifics of my own project, here are a few examples of similar works other people have done.
1) Social Turkers: Crowdsourced Dating (2013) by Lauren McCarthy
Lauren, who is also my teacher for this class (hi Lauren!) did a project where she went on dates that were live-streamed in realtime to Mechanical Turk workers, who gave her feedback as the date went on.
2) Lonely Sculpture (2014) by Tully Arnot
Tully made a finger that just says yes to every Tinder profile it comes across. The lifelike, grotesque finger in this project is quite evocative and gave me inspiration to use a lifelike hand for my own robot.
3) Tender (2015) by Cors Brinkman, Jeroen van Oorschot, Marcello Maureira, and Matei Szabo
Tender is literally a piece of meat that swipes right.
The True Love Tinder Robot reads your true heart’s desire as you are looking at Tinder profiles, and then physically swipes on your phone for you. Literally put your love life in a robot’s hands.
Here’s the idea of how it works in its current iteration:
I’m planning on making a lifelike, robotic hand. The hand will be on a box, housing LEDs in a heart shape. In front of a hand will be a stand to hold a phone. There will also be a speaker on or next to the box.
The user puts their phone in front of it, with the Tinder app open. The user then puts their hand on the sensors next to the box. When the robot is ready, the LEDs will light up and the robot will say “I’m ready to find you love” (or something like that). The robot will also explain that you have five seconds to look at each profile, and then it will read your true heart’s desire and swipe accordingly. It then begins to swipe.
Based on the biometric data from the sensors as the user is looking at each profile, the robot will decide whether or not the user should date someone. When the robot thinks the user is not interested, the hand will swipe left and the LEDs will turn red, and the robot will announce that they are not a good match. On the other hand, if the robot thinks the user should say yes to the person they are looking at, the hand will swipe right and the LEDS will turn green and the robot will announce that it’s a match.
Throughout the process, the robot will say things to reassure you to trust it.
Last week I tested a camera and an emotion-reading library as a potential sensor. It was interesting, but I decided that I won’t use a screen because it’s distracting, and I probably won’t use a camera.
I haven’t decided yet what biometric sensor to use, so this week I’ll have to test the heart rate monitor, as well as try a GSR.
The bulk of the ICM-related work will be, I think, working with audio and making sure the robot responds appropriately.
GOALS & QUESTIONS
I want this project to be sort of amusing, kind of creepy and slightly embarrassing. I want the user to feel a tension between the robot assuring you that it knows best and not being sure whether or not to trust it. I want the user to question whether or not we should let a computer make intimate decisions for us.
- How can I make the robot evoke the feeling that it has authority? (Besides calling it a robot.)
- How can I make the experience interesting for spectators as well as the user?
- What type of things should the robot “say?”
- How should the interaction end?