The act of using Tinder is pretty mechanical. You swipe right if you find someone attractive, left if you don’t. A robot could do it.
And now one does.
Nicole He, a graduate student in New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, has invented the True Love Tinder Robot, a rubber hand that does the swiping for singles in search of a soulmate … or a sweaty one-night stand.
Speaking of sweat, the salty moisture exuded from your palms plays an integral part in the robot’s swiping decisions.
To activate the bot, you must open the Tinder app on your phone, put it on a mount and then place your hands inside palm-shaped sensors.
As soon as the sensors can feel the heat of a palm, it will respond with:
“Hello, human. I am True Love Tinder Robot. I’m going to help you find love,” in a Russian-accented computer voice (which should be the voice of every robot in our humble opinion).
It will then show you a picture of a potential date on Tinder and based on your galvanic skin response -- or how sweaty your palms get -- the rubber hand will make a decision for you.
Basically, a bigger change in your body’s response to a photo (i.e., more sweat) means you’re excited, or attracted, and it swipes right. Less sweat? The robot reads this as "human does not like," and it swipes left.
But, if someone has naturally sweaty hands, does that affect the outcome?
"No. Because it measures the changes in your skin response over time, it doesn't matter if you are naturally sweaty or not sweaty to begin with," He told The Huffington Post.
And has anyone ever been surprised by the way the robot swipes?
“It happens sometimes,” He said. “But it makes you consider the truth revealed in how your body reacted to a certain person.”
He has a rather meta answer on her website to explain why she created the robot:
In a time when it's very normal for couples to meet online, we trust that algorithms on dating sites can find us suitable partners … This project explores the idea that the computer knows us better than we know ourselves, and therefore it has better authority on who we should date than we do. In a direct way, the True Love Tinder Robot makes the user confront what it feels like to let computers make intimate decisions for us.
This reasoning may also be why He’s robot has a snarky sense of humor about the whole ordeal. It says things like “You can trust me because I’m a robot,” “I can read your feelings” and “Judge this person” to you as you use the invention -- which, by the way, is a little more complex than other Tinder-swiping doodads.
The Tinder Robot is merely what He describes as “LEDs, a couple sheets of metal acting as galvanic skin response sensor, a bunch of wires, a box, and a speaker” that she programmed to a tiny open-source computer called Arduino, but getting a touch-screen phone to respond to her robot’s rubber hand was no small feat.
“It was surprisingly annoying,” she wrote. He said she used a combination of metal and rubber to make it work.
If you're offended by a robot choosing your matches rather than swiping yourself, He has one last thing to say: “Good luck on Tinder!”