According to IBISWorld research, in the past 5 years, the U.S. dating services industry grew by 11.9%, reaching $3 billion in revenue in 2018, with mobile dating apps accounting for a quarter of that revenue. So much has changed in the past decade — dating services once revolved around meeting with a matchmaker or logging into a computer, and now, smartphone dating apps rule the scene.
What will 2019 and beyond bring for singles looking for love?
What’s for dinner?
It’s difficult enough to find someone you like enough to date, but once that gets sorted out, the next hardest decision is where the two of you should eat. A 2019 OpenTable survey found that 1 in 2 singles felt as if they’d be judged based on the restaurant they chose for a first date. Now, there’s no need for negotiation. If someone wants Italian, but the other person is craving a juicy hamburger, there’s a way that both of you can win this Valentine’s Day.
OpenTable, the restaurant reservation software, just launched Matchmaker, an online tool that helps couples choose a restaurant to celebrate the holiday of love. Users simply answer a few easy questions about the number of people attending, what type of ambiance you’re looking for, and what cuisine makes you drool, and Matchmaker responds with several options local to the user with seating available.
Virtual dating on the rise
When internet dating apps first hit the scene, privacy and safety were major concerns. Is the person on the other screen really who you think you’re talking to? Could you be getting catfished, ie: lured into love by someone who isn’t actually who they say they are? Knowing when to take the conversation from the “safety” of a screen into real life was a tough decision. But now, there may not even be a need to meet in person, when people can date in virtual reality.
In an article for MACH, Clemens Wangerin, managing director of vTime, which just launched a VR social network, says, “Virtual reality is probably the safest way to have a real time interaction with a complete stranger other than a telephone conversation.”
The technology is not quite there yet, but singles may soon be able to meet their date without ever making physical contact. Better yet, according to MACH, in the next 2 decades, individuals may be able to explore the possibility of a relationship while also virtually exploring the world. No longer will the local steakhouse be the only option for a nice night out. A first date may soon take place in romantic Paris or energetic Amsterdam, with each person seeing, hearing, and experiencing the same events, just from different locations. Virtual dating will be a fun experience for first dates, and can completely revolutionize long-distance relationships.
Matchmaking via artificial intelligence
Hey, Siri. Can you set me up on a date with someone new on Friday night?
Machines are the next set of matchmakers. With all the changes in the dating services industry in the past decade, imagine how different dating will look in another 10 or 20 years. Sure, dating apps with questionnaires already suggest matches based on the user’s answers, but because those responses aren’t always honest representations, the results may not find the most suitable partners. However, advances in tech can help AI tools to better match singles looking for love.
According to eHarmony, “By 2040, our genetic make-up, along with chemical & electrical signal analysis will be used to understand our online dating preferences… Instead of filling out a questionnaire, romantic ‘matching’ could become even more accurate through online behavioural tracking and interpreting live reactions such as heart rate, facial recognition, and even neural signals in your brain.”
So, for now, keep swiping right in your dating apps, but prepare to connect virtually or with the help of AI in the future. Oh, and you may never have to ask, “What’s for dinner?” again!