Searching for “Future of Love”

Cavemen, family arrangements, great love stories, meeting in the clubs, online dating and Tinder. Let’s say these are the main steps in the evolution of love. So what can be next thing? How mankind will find their love in the future? Which tools they will use? These werequestions are in my mind since I had written that article about Tinder.

When IxDA Student Design Challenge with Intel, announced this year’s theme as “Future of Wearable City”, I thought, maybe the answers of my questions are hidden under the wearable technology and I changed them as “What is the next thing in the evolution of love and how can wearable technology can effect or enhance this ancient instinct?”

(For those who are not familiar with IxDA SDC, it is a part of annual Interaction Design conference which students and new grads from all over the world can apply with their concept for the year’s theme. After the first elections, 5 finalists are invited to the conference to develop and present their concept. So if you are a design student or a new grad, nothing should keep you away from applying to it. And if you have any question, just write me a line.)

My first thought was, when we are in love (or in lust), some changes are happening in our bodies, if there is a way to measure these changes with wearables, why not to use that data to match people who are sharing the same feelings? Like Tinder which works with sensors.

I did a very quick desk research and found affective computing (human emotion tracking through devices and sensors). I investigated more to understand how heart rate, skin conductance, body temperature and blood pressure can be used to detect human emotions and I learned that with all these, you can only measure the arousal level, not the specific emotions. Than I thought, if I can use the context information and gather user feedback it might be possible. Hopefully to apply SDC you don’t need to find all solutions for your concept since you need to develop it there with your mentors, so I made the video below and made it to the finals.

Here is how I found my answer and what it is?

Before I fly to San Francisco I made an online survey to understand how is love in these days. The survey results showed that, many people met with their partners; through a friend or in the same place they work or study. From those results, I found out how correspondence is important in today’s love stories. Here you can see the full results.

And my days in San Francisco

First day: Sunday morning right after an exhausting travel from Milan to San Francisco, I went to our host Cooper’s studio and met with other finalists and my mentors. They assigned me to Castro District for field research. It was a great decision because as you may know, The Castro is one of the first gay district in United States and it is true that gay people are more open minded when it comes to love! When we headed there with Izac, I thought the best way to hear the love stories of a neighborhood is to listen the bartenders of the neighborhood. So we went to a corner bar, and spoke with bartenders while drinking some triple IPA Californian bear. The bartender told me it’s a bar famous for the first dates (after meeting online) and very often he sees awkward situations in the wrong match cases. In Castro, I understood that, how common is online dating and how disappointing it can be in the first meetings.

Second day: It was the time for prototyping and testing the initial ideas. In the morning I created a storyboard prototype (bunch of flip boards made by photos for each step of the whole experience with some alternatives) to test my ideas with conference goers. I had a main scenario and alternatives for some steps. My aim was to see the reactions of people and hear their suggestions. It was a great time hearing all the feedbacks of the designers who were in IxDA. From the feedbacks, I understood the uncomfortable points of my initial experience flow and get some insights for possible solutions. Especially accuracy was the main question that popping up during the conversations. Accuracy, not as a must have but should or should not have.

While I was testing the storyboard, I was also Tindering to make some interviews. I spoke with around 10 people and saw how fear of disappointment can block Tinder people to meet with their matches. Most of them said, they have just enrolled, they are doing it only for fun and never had a date after matching on Tinder.

Here is my all research structure with findings and challenges to solve.

Third day: With all the feedback, I re-made the prototype and headed to conference to do one more round of final testing. Till noon I cleaned my mind and finalized the ideas with some new feedbacks.

With all the research, design iterations and ideation I define these design statements:

  1. People should be out of screen, whatever is happening should be happen without an interface and in the real life (well what’s real is another long discussion). I made some exceptions later though.
  2. Since it is very common to use digital tools to meet these days, people should be encouraged with some digital tools to feel comfortable.
  3. To use the current technology (biometric sensors), user feedback is needed, but it should not be disruptive!
  4. Flirting and the risk is fun, there should be a part for it, matching shouldn’t be so easy. Let the game happen!
  5. Missed opportunities are sad maybe some solutions can be nice!

Finally, I decided to design the future of love, contextual, screenless, and with a space for the game part of love by using wearable sensors.

Here is what is my concept I believe that can be the future of love!

Rest of the day (until next day’s morning) passed with finalizing the concept and presentation.

Fourth day: I spent fastest 3 minutes of my life on the stage. Could not see the audience because of the bright lights of the stage but heard them having fun and it was nice. After the presentation, finally, I listened some talks and enjoy the rest of the day in the conference.

And the Awards Ceremony and closing party. Some sushi, nice old fashions, good new friends and second prize in the competition. It was a very nice evening where great designers from all over the world come together and meet with each other.

Here is what is my concept, I believe that can be the future of love!

It might sound futuristing or creepy now, but if you tell how Tinder works to my grandmother, she would give the same reactions to it.

So, why not?