The Future of Online Dating

The Future of Online Dating

Relationships in a connected society

‘The Future of Online Dating’ is a project that evolved from the stereotypes of dating, relationships and intimacy. Future is now being directed towards virtualization of societies, and computers are being placed at the heart of most operations. It is not about making arbitrary guesses, but systematically analysing past and present data, both subjectively and objectively, in order to minimise uncertainty and develop an appropriate strategic direction for both the near and distant future.

We conducted an experiment whereby we constructed a fictional dating profile, and watched it far outperform an ‘honest’ profile written by the same subject. It was interesting to observe how the lack of transparency in the industry manifests itself, and whilst it may be beneficial in the short run to ‘daters’, in the long run it is likely to cast a shadow over the industry, leading to a degradation of image and rendering brands worthless.

The classification of relationships into incidental relationship, purpose-driven relationship, friendship relationship and lifelong relationship offers insights into the emotional aspect of product segregation by its purpose, which was very useful while designing for virtual intimacy. Wally Olins did however raise another interesting point - that, in contrast to his overriding view, it is possible that it is the individual’s personal brand which they destroy through dishonesty, rather than the brand of the site they represent. Human behaviour and relationships are extremely unpredictable and complex interactions and as relationships move into the virtual world, in the future design will have to play a crucial role in ensuring that the intimacy and honesty of physical contact can be safely replicated in the virtual world.

The scales for filtering topics for project definition was presented by Kevin McCullagh, in his illustration of Tim Brown’s ‘Design Doing’ which classifies design to be a combination of Desirability, Viability and Feasibility, along with the suggestive themes of clarity, style, authority, co-ordination and idea blue sky thinking proved efficient and served as a catalyst of innovation. In addition to using conventional methods like academic and online research, getting expert opinions, brainstorming, creating future scenarios, sketching etc, this was an excellent opportunity to sharpen our design thinking skills.

As blue sky concepts the team came up with the idea of being able to take finding dates online even further, including having relationships and being intimate via the web. The foundation of this idea comes from the fact that many people believe their future partner could be anywhere in the world, and have limited opportunities to find a potential partner.