Scientists have already demonstrated that scent is a key to attraction, and that the root causes are evolutionary. A new dating startup, two-and-a-half years in the making, aims to match people by their scent profiles. Basisnote, founded by biologist August Hämmerli, determines natural body scent through a quick saliva test. Potential online daters send those tests in, and the results will be coded into a database. That'll give Basisnote's clients, in addition to interests, looks, and goofy profile details, the chance to sift through would-be mates by the compatibility of their smell.
Goofy as it sounds, the idea is backed by solid science. In the 1990s, women were asked to smell t-shirts of various men and rate the attractiveness of the scent. But scent, it turns out, also carries reliable information about the make-up of our immune systems. And it turns out that the women, unconsciously, ranked the scent of men whose immune systems were most different than their own as being the most attractive. As the original researchers pointed out, this makes complete sense, from an evolutionary stand point. When looking for a mate, it's ideal to find one with an immune system as dissimilar from your own as possible. That way, you increase the chances that your future children will have protection from as many diseases as possible.
Basisnote throws the process in reverse. By administering a saliva test that creates a profile of your immune system, it offers the chance to find those most dissimilar to you—and, by extension, those whose scent you're likely to find most appealing. Hämmerli says the technical details have all been resolved, and that negotiations with several online dating sites are in the final stages.