At last week’s annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2017), Tinder, one of the world’s most popular dating apps, had a surprise in store. But not of the practical, or even real, variety.
Tinder “introduced” Tinder VR, a new headset for virtual reality. Except, as Tinder wrote in a blog post, they fixed the virtual technology “by removing the V from VR.” So just reality, nothing virtual. The headset is a strange sight to behold: an oblong headset, dedicated to securing extremely awkward and focused eye contact between two viewers standing face to face. Tinder VR, from its first inception, is very clearly a joke. But it’s a significant riff on the space of incessant tech innovation; one that at a glance, might even be taken seriously.
“We created our multi-user VR headset with the Tinder experience in mind,” Tinder’s blog announcement for the faux-product reads. “Real people having a real experience, and like the app, it only works with a double opt-in.” As two people stand face to face, they slide their heads into a duo-connected headset. There’s no screen obstructing their view – say, like two people sharing the same VR experience simultaneously. Instead, their eyes only face each other.
Tinder VR is all about human connection, quite literally
CES, as well as most technology conferences, keynotes, and announcements, are riddled with not-so-great ideas. Some try to capitalize on a popular trend (in Tinder’s joking case: on virtual reality); others try to explore something new, missing what made their company great in the first place. Sure, in technology there’s always room to innovate. But in the often forgotten, there’s always room to poke fun at themselves too.