This GLaDOS-inspired robot brings science to dating apps

As a young twenty-something, a small amount of my young adult life has been spent hovered around the phones of my friends, laughing as we collectively swipe right and left on Tinder. Being in a long-term committed relationship myself, I’ve never personally experienced the whims of Tinder, but its attached lingo and stigma have breezed past me in the conversations of acquaintances and their recurring stories of failed Tinder dates.

Thus comes NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program graduate student Nicole He’s “True Love Tinder Robot.” Put your Tinder-armed phone in front of the robotic hand and place your hands onto the skin sensors that lie in front of it, and the robotic hand will swipe through potential suitors for you, all depending on how your body reacts—or rather, how sweaty your palms get. An entirely fresh, yet unnerving way of exploring the app.

Not only does the robot swipe for you, it additionally speaks to you in the process. Inspired by the much-adored, passive-aggressive robot GLaDOS from Valve’s Portal, the robot flatly provokes you as it swipes away. The Arduino-powered robot beneath the eerie-looking hand speaks to you as it browses profiles, saying phrases such as “judge this person,” “determine if this person has any value,” and “can you see yourself spending your life with this person?”, and your body’s increasingly sweaty reactions give the robot its answers.

The True Love Tinder Robot got its start when He had the idea of exploring the notion of computers knowing us better than we even know ourselves. In this not-so-unrealized world, the computer has a better idea of who we should date than we even do ourselves. He writes on her project’s page, “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.” With sweaty palms, the robot questions why we even swipe right and left in the first place.

Test out Nicole He’s True Love Tinder Robot for yourself when it’s on display at NYU’s ITP Winter Show on December 20-21.


Photo from Nicole He, Vimeo.