Online dating has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the mid 90's, and currently rivals the local bar scene for meeting people. It is not, however, without some painful drawbacks. Profiles are exaggerated. The pictures are often inaccurate to say the least. And people spend way too much time over analyzing profiles and messaging one another, when what they should be doing is actually meeting someone.
Seek.ly challenges traditional online dating by moving away from profiles and pictures and substituting them with real human interaction. Think of it as online speed dating. You don’t pour over thousands of profiles. You decide when you want to meet people, and then, you go online and meet people.
Most online dating sites brag about their extensive profiles and questionnaires. The problem, however, is that that isn't how dating works. When you meet someone in real life, you don’t know every little thing about them. Unfortunately, in a world that shares an increasing amount of data, analysis paralysis has crept into the dating world.
Imagine if real life dating worked that way: as you entered a bar, the bouncer hands you a stack of thick files on every person there. In that file was every mundane detail about the people surrounding you – likes, history, preferences in other people, etc. Let me ask you, would you sit down in a booth and comb over them, ruling out people because they don’t exercise at least three times a week, have only completed some college, or aren’t exactly sure how many kids they want yet? No. You would probably throw those files away and just go talk to people. Besides, they’re single – it would be weird if they required their date want a certain amount of kids
So how does seek.ly work? It’s pretty simple – especially in comparison to most other dating sites.
Users register a quick, shoestring profile. It includes:
1 photo (the max allowed)
what age/sex you want to date
and deal breakers
Different from preferences, deal breakers are a few simple yes or no questions; absolute lines you can’t cross. For example, they ask “would you date a smoker.” If the answer is no, you won’t meet any smokers. That’s it, and the process takes about 2 minutes.
You’re matched up with people in your area and the sex and age range you said you preferred. Everything else about them is pretty random and left for you to find out – a lot like in real life. Dates are 5 minutes long, and when it’s over, you decide whether you liked that person and want to talk to them again, and have the option of scheduling more dates with the user.
Seek.ly has another advantage over online dating – you actually see the person. How many people go for accuracy when choosing their photos for an online dating profile? I’m guessing that since the creation of online dating, upwards of 4 people have actually thought ‘You know, this isn't the most flattering photo of me, but it is what I actually look like.’ The rest? They chose the best possible photo they have, often from years ago or after digital editing.
“We were told people are sick of going through profile after profile of people who are not being who they say they are. They’d see a picture, meet in real life, and it didn’t match up,” Recounts Susie Steiner, who co-founded the company. “With seek.ly, what you see is what you get; you can’t really hide yourself on a video. So you have five minutes to interact and see if you want to meet them offline. It makes online dating more efficient. You can’t message on seekly – it’s just like meeting someone in real life, from the convenience of your home or office.”
So if seek.ly solves the problems of traditional online dating, what new challenges does their model face? One of the issues with randomized video chatting is the possibility for vulgarity. Not for long though. They’re currently at work to integrate facial recognition technology into the site, Steiner explains: “We’ve created a program so that if someone were to show too much skin, it would kick them out of the date. So we’re eliminating that issue that is associated with anonymous video dating. We will have it integrated by the end of this year.”