How Can Wearable Tech Help You Find (and Keep) a Mate?

"Hug shirt" from Cute CircuitWearable tech is all the rage, whether it’s a bracelet that tells you how many steps you’ve taken  or one that tracks your quality of sleep, to a ring that glows when that someone special is calling, to concussion caps that let the coach know when a player should be pulled off the field.

But can wearable tech help your love life?  There aren’t any wearable tech devices out there right now specifically targeted towards dating, but there is a lot of potential to piggyback onto devices that are already out there.  I’ve broken down my findings into three categories:  Finding a Match, First Date, and Relationships.

Finding a Match

Here are two ideas from interns at the design studio LUNAR (only concepts for now):

  • Marie Noury designed a pendant called Wizz that “gathers information from all your social networks, and uses that to figure out who you might like. It uses this information to send you an alert when there is someone with the same interests in the area around you.”
  • Toby Stopper designed a charm bracelet that “lets you broadcast your interests to the world around you. Various glowing charms can be combined to reflect different personalities and passions, which lets people know instantly whether or not there could be a connection.”

Using Google Glass comes to mind, of course–Coffee Meets Bagel had an April Fool’s joke saying they’d partnered with Glass to help find the perfect match:  “High compatibility detected: Commence stalking.”

Besides stalking potential mates while you’re out and about, wearable tech could also be used to automatically add information to people’s online profiles.  For example, if users wear a sleep tracker, it can automatically label whether someone is a night owl, which may be important to you.  If someone is ok with sharing a summary of their activity data, you could see whether their claim of “physically active” holds true.

Emotion detection apps are starting to emerge, as well.  An online profile could show someone’s emotional pattern when they’ve watched a movie, and you could see if you both laugh and cry at the same things.  OkCupid says one of the most reliable questions you can ask your date to see if you’re compatible is “Do you like horror movies?” (If you both answer yes, or both answer no, you’re more likely to be a good match.)

First Date

In Professor Eli Finkel’s TED talk (“Can Technology Bring Us True Love?”), he talks about research showing that when two people who meet have chemistry, their heart rates sync up.  If you wear a heart rate monitor during your first date (like this one from Sensilk), you could get a report card showing how compatible you and your date are in terms of your unconscious signals.  The report card could use emotion as well–if it detects boredom or disgust, you’re probably not a good match.

Imagine a bracelet, like Jawbone’s Up, vibrating when certain events occur; for example, if someone you chose as a match on eHarmony said “yes” back, a little vibrate might make you feel extra good about it.  (The vibrate when you reach your goal for the date on FitBit is apparently a bit of a thrill for some.)

Kapture has a bracelet that lets you record and share the last 60 seconds of conversation–you can save and replay that special moment during your first date when you first felt that spark.


Other devices might come into play once you’ve had at least one date with someone, or if you’re actually in a relationship.  Here’s something from Cute Circuit called a “hug shirt”:  it lets you send a hug to someone anywhere in the world, which is then simulated by the shirt they’re wearing.  It’s kind of a nice idea, but I think I’d feel creeped out if I was just sitting in a meeting or something and suddenly my shirt started hugging me.

You could imagine something even more sophisticated, which can respond in different ways depending on what was sent–a hug from a faraway friend vs. a more intense one from a boyfriend/girlfriend.

Another idea for long-distance relationships is an app that tracks and sends photos of your partner throughout the day; perhaps your partner is traveling abroad and this would be an automatic way to see glimpses into their day and travels, and spark conversations when you do chat.  Or you could both be going for a run in your respective cities, and compete to see who can get their heart rate in the zone the longest.  Winner buys dinner next time you’re in town.

Of course I have to mention Funderwear: “Basically Durex took the same technology used to make a cell phone vibrate—actuators—and wired them into the underwear, which can then be remotely controlled by a smartphone. The complete his and hers Funderwear set includes a bra, panties, and a pair of boxer briefs, all of which vibrate.”

Back to emotion tracking:  maybe your boyfriend just had a bad day at work.  The emotion tracker could let you know it’s a good time to send him a message that you’re thinking of him–or one of those hug shirt hugs!

Most of these ideas are for long-distance relationships, but there are plenty of games for in-person dates as well.  How about seeing how fast it takes to boost the other person’s heart rate, for example?  Or how fast you can calm their heart rate, for that matter.

There are negative sides, of course, like this creepy video that shows a future in which a man is playing a dating app game in the middle of a first date (for example it lets him know when his date’s interest in the conversation is flagging).  And allowing users to have total control over what information they’re sharing, and with whom, is essential.

Wearable tech is still in its infancy.  But as it grows, no doubt its uses–even in love–will grow too.


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