Tis the season to be reminded of the painful horror that is dating, right? In a world where most of us have to resort to a superficial swipe on Tinder, a strategically crafted OkCupid profile or giving up and dating our friends, there’s plenty of opportunity to make finding love a little less miserable.
That’s the idea behind a recent challenge posed by Lunar design: How can design ease the dating experience? The studio set its industrial design interns to work, creating rough sketches of products that might help people bridge the gap between attractive stranger and true love. “Connect,” one of the ideas that resulted, is a concept for a wristband that helps users overcome one of the scariest parts of dating: breaking the ice. Worn only by single people, it would broadcast a subtle glow of light that’s meant to signal, “Hey, come talk to me, cutie,” at the user’s discretion. You’d still have to get up the nerve to turn it on, of course, but it’d be a quick way to acknowledge that you’re open to chatting–a handy tool for sufferers of bitchy resting face.
The beauty of online dating lies in its openness. You know exactly who’s available and looking for love–and what variety of love they’re seeking, whether that be long-term or casual, ladies or gentlemen, or all of the above. But looking at a series of profile pictures doesn’t offer the same frisson as meeting someone’s eyes across a cafe. “Connect” bridges the gap between the two, combining a kind of online status update with the physical world. Kind of like a high-tech charm bracelet, it would be outfitted with small, abstract icons, which to someone in-the-know would be a rough “About Me” letting the wearer broadcast certain identifiers like “adventurous” or “artistic.”
It’s “like a quiet invite, like a beacon,” says JJ Mendoza, a senior designer at Lunar who’s involved in Moondust, the three-month-long design challenge the studio gives its interns, asking them to come up with potential design solutions to an open-ended question like How do we make dating better? The other product that resulted from the challenge, “Wizz,” is a rock-like pendant that would vibrate when it senses compatibility with someone nearby, based on apps people already use (like your Netflix queue or an iTunes playlist). Both devices seek to help overcome the hesitation of an initial encounter, the equivalent of a friend whispering, “Go for it!”
Sure, we shouldn’t need technology to help us say hi to a sexy stranger. Taking emotional risks is an inherent part of dating. But if there’s any reason to adopt a new piece of wearable technology, it’s in the service of one of life’s most enduring challenges: how to get laid. Oh, and like, finding love and stuff.