Smartphone Proximity Dating
Mobile Dating – what is proximity dating?
If you’ve ever heard of ‘mobile dates and smartphone dating’ you probably already know how mobile dating works. At its most basic level, it’s pretty similar to internet dating, just optimized for small mobile screens such as those on cell phones and PDAs. Most services also feature a system whereby users are alerted when others who use the service are within their vicinity, for example within a few city blocks. The idea here is to make it easy to get together with someone for a date after exchanging a few messages through the mobile dating service, and this is really the benefit that mobile dating offers over traditional internet dating.
So if that’s mobile dating, what is ‘proximity dating’? Proximity dating is mobile dating taken one step further. It uses Bluetooth connectivity in a cell phone or PDA to broadcast a signal to other users of the proximity dating service. Once you’ve filled in a profile and the type of profile that you’re seeking, all you have to do is carry on your life as normal. But if you get to within Bluetooth distance of another user (so about 15 meters), both phones will buzz and display the other person’s profile. Each person can then decide to send a message, locate each other, or just forget about it.
The idea here is to take the sting out of making that first move, by breaking the ice, and it also lets you know that the other person is single and dating as well. To use an analogy, it is perhaps a bit like animals that give off a signal of some kind when they are looking for a partner, just translated into human terms and with a technological signal replacing a natural one.
While proximity dating has obvious advantages, it remains to be seen whether it will ever really take off. One reason that it may fail is that it will need to reach a substantial ‘critical mass’ of users before it is all that useful a service. There’s not much point being a proximity dater if no one else is – they’ll never know! If proximity dating does get big, there’s little doubt that it will do so in places where there are often a lot of people within 15 meters of each other – i.e. major cities. Catching a train at rush hour might actually be a lot more fun with proximity dating, but it could be embarrassing to be squashed against someone only to realize that both of your cell phones just beeped!
Proximity dating is normally an extra that mobile dating services offer, but some prefer to focus more on it as the main way in which their service should be used. One company goes a step further with it, and in order to get around the issue of there potentially not being enough other users, actually designates times and places (normally a bar on a given night) for users to go along to. This actually starts to tread on the toes of another modern ‘mobile date’ phenomena – speed dating.