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This Is How You're Going to Get Laid in Five Years' Time

How apps are going to continue changing the way humans hook-up.

by David Hillier
11 December 2015, 6:00am

(Photo by Salvatore Barbera via)

If you've been single in the last five years and like having sex with someone other than yourself, you'll be familiar with tech-based dating. It's currently riding the crest of a wave that doesn't look like it's going to break any time soon; statistics vary in both size and reliability, but a Global WedIndex report claimed that 91 million people worldwide use dating apps, with around 50 million people on Tinder alone.

According to the last UK census, 51 percent of the population are single. Twin that figure with the 64.8 million people living here, and we can conclude that something like 33 million of us will be giving any plus-ones we're offered to our best platonic friends. So what do the start-ups and Silicon Roundabout bosses have planned to bring that number of singletons down?

"People really, really want to get laid," says Michael Raven, one of the founders of Tinderus, a consultancy service that, for £30, will tailor your Tinder profile to make it super swipe-right-friendly. "A trend I'm seeing is that, particularly on the female side, standards are going up. Instantaneous access to potential dates and sex means we get to see all that's available. Why settle for average when you can attract someone of a higher standard?"

It's a theme that David Buss, author of The Evolution of Human Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, agrees with – though he speaks a little more cautiously on the topic. "A pretty sound prediction is that college-educated women will find it increasingly difficult to find good mates," he tells me. "This is because of a confluence of factors: higher and higher percentages of women compared to men are getting educated, and because women have strong preferences not to 'mate down', their pool consists of [less and less] educated, intelligent, stable-income guys."

With this in mind, a question is raised: if 62 percent of dating app users are men, and women are looking for clever, reliable guys, what's going to happen to all us poor, ill-educated idiots?

Michael says that "dating apps will become more niche; they will start tapping into the average Joe/Jane market". We've already seen this with Ten, an app that matches you to people in a similar looks-league to yourself. Elsewhere, on Bumble – an app launched late last year by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe – it's down to women to initiate conversations with matches, and if their match doesn't reply within 24 hours they disappear. Sarah Mick, Head of Product and Design at the company, says the world of online dating has been "lopsided" and that Bumble are trying to create an environment where "there's mutual respect and balance of power that fits the wants and the needs of each individual person or couple".

Michael adds that we're likely to see a more invasive, in-depth app come along pretty soon – one that notes "waist size, breast size, penis size, all out there on the app, ready [for users to] choose [their] perfect match". In the location-based app race, he rates Happn as the "first mass market app to integrate beacon technology in an interesting way", though feels the ability to see how far away the person you're messaging is from you is "relatively creepy".

READ ON BROADLY: The Girls Who Use Grindr

The issue of "creepiness" is something that has dogged dating sites and apps since day dot. Julia Spira – who founded the website cyberdatingexpert.com and claims to be "America's Top Online Dating Expert and Digital Matchmaker" – runs with this idea. Like Michael, she thinks we're going to see a move to more niche dating apps, but also "ones where it's easy to meet on the fly".

Read between the lines and it's clear we're talking no-strings hook-ups. This, of course, raises the issue of who the stranger is you're sexting at 11AM. "Safety will be an important component, and singles will want to meet someone who a friend can recommend, or someone who has mutual friends on their social networking sites, such as Facebook," says Julia.

One company that could provide a solution are Hello Soda. Utilising the principles of the Bayesian Belief Network – a tongue-twisty phrase that basically means "looking at data and making a considered analysis" – the company can analyse what you've done online and confirm that that you are in fact Sally from Acton and not Simon from Ayr. The crudest way of describing how it works might be to compare it to a credit check, but one that – with your permission – dredges your Facebook, tweets, blog posts and social interactions rather than your bank account.

James Blake, CEO of Hello Soda, says the service could identify fake profiles or "catfishes" outright – and, on a more harmonious level, "extract members' likes and interests from their social profiles, providing a means to match members based on their shared or disparate personality traits".

Of course, depending on your imagination, the terms "fake man" or "fake woman" could mean all sorts. A report was released recently that predicted sex with robots would be more popular than human-human sex by 2050. Granted, the report was funded by the sex toy company Bondara and obviously geared towards generating headlines, but it doesn't seem so far-fetched when you consider the wearable technology everyone's going to be strapping to themselves over the next five years.

You may have already heard of Oculus Rift, a headset that allows you to enter immersive virtual reality worlds. VICE actually already tested out its sexual capabilities last year in the documentary The Digital Love Industry, and, frankly, it left a lot to be desired.

Ayliffe Brown from Wearable Technologies says that "in five years I would consider wearable tech – hands-free sex toys that work with your smartphone – to be popular". Take a company like Lovense, which has two toys: the Nora (a vibrator) and the Max (a contraption similar to a Fleshlight). Through the Lovense app on your phone you can control the vibrating and the rumblings of either of these, as can your partner, whether they're in bed with you or on the other side of the world.

Elsewhere, Fundawear make wearable underwear that can be remotely vibrated by a partner, while Frixion – a beta social network platform – uses "real-time, bi-directional force feedback telemetry to achieve convincing and organic intimacy". In other words: you use your computer to make a robot fuck someone.

With all these different methods of courtship going on – each of them quietly teasing us away from the time-honoured tradition of person meets person on a night out, drinks six pints and does some sex – the question is whether or not technology will eventually become the one and only way humans form romantic relationships.

Of course, even if that unlikely outcome is realised, it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. As David Buss points out, regardless of the technology used to get two people to that point, meeting in person is indispensable, because it's the only true measure of whether "the chemistry is there or not".

@Gobshout

More on VICE:

What I Learned Using an Online Dating Site for Married People to Cheat on My Wife

A Woman's Guide to Online Dating for Men

Online Dating Made Me Realise I'm a Shallow Person