You might not think your crock pot or your refrigerator would have a whole lot to do with your love life, but as we enter the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), connected devices can collect data about our behaviors that might actually help match us with our ideal partners. To explore this idea further, as part of our regular feature called One Big Question, we reached out to Romain Bertrand, UK Country Manager at the UK's branch of popular dating site eHarmony. Bertrand and a team of researchers at Imperial College London recently compiled a report about how the IoT will be affecting our dating habits going forward.
We asked him just what the dating landscape would look like in the next 20 years and specifically how connected devices might shape it. Here's what he had to say.
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When looking forwards at how people go about finding love over the next twenty years, it's useful to first look backwards. Tech has changed an unprecedented amount in recent years – and romantic conventions with it. When eHarmony launched in 2007 in the UK, it was into a world that had only just witnessed the birth of the iPhone.
It is reasonable then to expect this exponential level of change to continue apace as we look to the future. These further advances in technology will bring ever-greater changes in how we meet potential partners.
The eHarmony.co.uk algorithm already connects members using 29 dimensions of compatibility – factoring in their beliefs, core values and key personality traits to create deeper connections and as a result, meaningful relationships that will stand the test of time.
In the recent Future of Dating report from eHarmony.co.uk and Imperial College London, we dove further into smart technology, and its implications for the pursuit of love.
Smart technology has evolved at an incredible pace – in fact there are an estimated 6.4 billion connected devices worldwide. But many potential applications remain untapped as uptake steadily increases.
As more people build a 'smart home' device by device, the data available will crucially help narrow the gap between who you think you are, and who you actually are, leading to far more rewarding romantic choices.
Looking at the specifics of what this means, such data could be used to provide accurate insight into personality traits, helping to give us an even fuller picture of what makes two people truly compatible.
You may be forgiven for asking how the settings on a smart shower or the food in your smart fridge can tell you things about yourself than many other forms of self-assessment, but much can be understood based on our choices, lifestyle and views.
For example, a smart shower may reveal a lot about cleanliness, which correlates strongly with levels of conscientiousness but also organization. Equally, whether you keep your fridge full and organized or end up adding food in fits and bursts can give clues on whether you're a spontaneous person, how busy you are and culinary prowess.
Other devices that we'd already recognize in the home, such as smart televisions, could also build on compelling data. For instance, research suggests that similar tastes in films, which we attach great emotional importance to, can be a key indicator in a couple's mutual psychological make-up.
But while the means and method behind finding love might see further change, the human heart will likely stay the same, and as such, what works between two people in terms of compatibility won't be too different.
The challenge for us in the future will be to understand how all this new data provided by the 'Internet of Things' relates to what scientists now call deeper learning, helping us to better understand the behavior of people and how this relates to attraction.
It's very encouraging to see that what started with scientifically-advanced tools such as eHarmony's compatibility algorithm, will continue to evolve making use of the array of possibilities that the 'smart era' has to offer.