The building excitement over the impending iPad has developers working overtime to bring applications to the device which take advantage of it’s processing power and (hopefully) camera. The iPad promises entirely new ways to consume media, and publishers are working furiously to lead the charge into Reading 2.0. Over time, expect a lot of the innovation happening on the iPad will trickle down to laptops, especially those with webcams.
While we wait for the great unveiling, groups like the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (Text 2.0) have been working with technology from companies like Tobii Technology to make embedding eye-tracking functionality into applications as simple as possible. Check out this WIRED magazine article on Eye-Tracking Tablets and the Promise of Text 2.0.
This video is a great example of what tablet computers are going to be capable of. While you’re watching the video and reading this post, I want you to think about how eye-tracking could change the way people browse profiles. Imagine if a dating site were able to track who you looked at, for how long, what features your gaze lingered upon, etc.
What if you looked at a profile photo in a gallery view but moved your gaze on to the next profile. Overlooked profiles that the system thought were great matches could pop with emphasis, or you would receive verbal cues or other feedback along the lines of, “Hey dummy, s/he was a great match, why are you skipping them?” Like the featured member colored boxes some dating sites use to promote VIP members, but smarter and dynamic based on the systems’ best guess at your suitable matches.
With a 50% divorce rate in the US, it’s clear that people are not very good at picking out their dream dates, online or off.
What is needed is a digital dating concierge (running on iPads, tables, laptops, PDA’s, smart phones, etc) who takes your best interests into its silicon heart and is always by your side to help you make the most of your online dating experience. “Talk to her,” “Don’t talk to him,” “Do I have to remind you about what happened the last time you dated a Sagittarius!” The possibilities are remarkable, and only limited by the smarts that such a system relies upon. This was my original goal for Profile Doctor. Helping write better personal ads was just the first phase to bring in capital to fund such a system. Now I find myself slightly obsessed with the concept of a dating concierge, and no, I’m not talking about Clippy the Paperclip.
I tried out some eye-tracking rigs back in 1993 when I was seriously into virtual reality (bulky helmets and tactile feedback gloves used to navigate chunky and slow virtual worlds.) It was clear to me back then that eye-tracking had a bright future as an input device for computers.
Fast forward almost two decades to my conversation in a Harvard Square coffee shop with Dan Hill, the president of Sensory Logic. The company has been the market leader in helping major, global companies measure and manage emotions in strategic as well as tactical terms. They do so through combining unique research tools like eye tracking and facial coding with traditional ratings and verbal input.
Santa has nothing on Dan when it comes to knowing who’s been naughty or nice. Dan is the go-to guy for deciphering ability to read emotions based on facial muscle activity. You may have seen him on the cable news networks during the last presidential election, when he was analyzing how people were responding to the candidates during the debates.
Dan had some incredible things to say about facial coding, eye tracking and how it could be used by online dating sites. More on this in a future post. In the meantime, check out his most recent book, Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success.
This week I’ve also been reading Face Reading: How to Know Anyone at a Glance, by Barbara Roberts. Much like I sat down in 2003 and read more than 3,000 personal ads, Barbara has read 200 books on face reading and studied more than 6,000 faces. Barbara contends that you can learn a lot about people just by studying their faces, which is profoundly fascinating and incredibly useful. Just this week I’ve been able to manage situations better based on a few of the indicators mentioned in her book.
I find all of this incredibly inspiring and innovative, two key aspects of most things that interest me. The only thing that remains is to mash up several psychological disciplines, a few technologies, a couple of patents, some licenses, maybe throw in a robot or two, a year or so of development and another year of setbacks, a couple million dollars and then maybe we’ll have a true dating concierge which can help us make better decisions about our dating habits, lifestyle choices and much more.
You know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. Any investors want to hear the rest of the story? Contact me.