Your Sweaty Palms Tell This Tinder Bot to Swipe Left or Right

Spinning meat swipers, robotic fingers, and now: palm sweat detectors.

by Clinton Nguyen
Dec 13 2015, 9:05pm

Image: Nicole He.

For as long as love and smartphones have intersected, humans have quantified romance. That hilarious and sometimes truly depressing saga has another chapter—a skin-sensing robot that lets your body say if that Tinder match is a keeper or a hard pass.

Nicole He, a graduate student in New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program, built the bot from scratch for her final project. The video above shows the first final iteration of the robot that He completed six days ago.

It's powered by an Arduino controller, and includes a small indentation where you'll place your palms. A Microsoft Sam-esque robot vocalizes and guides you through the process. He mentions in a blog post that the robotic voice was inspired by Valve Software's epitomal robot villain GlaDOS, but instead of leading you through murderous obstacle courses, this one's questioning your feelings.

"Can you can imagine spending the rest of your life with this person?" it asks. It'll swipe left or right depending on how you're feeling, or rather, how your skin is feeling.

Her first iteration of the bot attempted to incorporate facial recognition but she scrapped that in favor of measuring GSR, or galvanic skin response.

The idea behind GSR is fairly simple: when you see or experience something exciting, extraordinary, or otherwise not boring, the skin reacts appropriately, making what's called an electrodermal response. Your skin gets a little moister, making the skin a little more conductive to electricity. GSR measures that physiological feedback through skin conduction, and it's been used to craft art installations powered by your feelings (or more precisely, your bodily response to those feelings).

Obviously, your body might not be the best judge for your feelings—not all humans sweat equally—but the project still raises some fair issues about how people choose their future soulmates. It might even be possible that your sweaty hands know who's a good match before you do.

Nicole He's True Love Tinder Bot will be displayed at ITP's Winter Show on December 20-21.