Saturday, October 23, 2021

Newly released (but viral) apps that embrace facial recognition technology

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If there is one technology that is going to get more and more inescapable over the next few years, it’s facial recognition. The more we interact with our phones, the more we get used to scanning everything around us. At the same time, we’re likely to come to use a variety of other kinds of location-based apps, such as location-based dating apps. This is an opportunity for companies like Relayr, which operates one of the most popular such apps in Australia.

Named after a fictional social network founded by James Bond, Relayr is a location-based dating app that aims to make it easy for people to check into locations and meet people. Its aim is to make the whole process as easy as possible, and let everyone know that they are about to have a good time. In Australia, Relayr has been popular since its launch in 2015, and has recently rolled out several new features including support for reservations in restaurants and bars.

In the developed world, every city and town with Wi-Fi is the same. Any technology company is going to have a pretty generic interface and a familiar and pretty effective way of determining who it should pair people with based on a number of factors such as age, gender, and proximity. Every new social app is going to sound a bit like Instagram. Any new app that embraces location-based dating is going to sound like a compelling alternative to Tinder or eHarmony, especially if it offers access to restaurants and bars, venues that are arguably much more of a turn-on than the average bedroom.

Relayr’s photo-sharing function, like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, has a few basic functions. When someone uploads a photo of themselves with the app, it scans it to try to guess how old they are and if there is a change in their hair, shape, or other physical characteristics that match up with their age or gender. Users can also tag friends and family members in photos. When someone tags you, Relayr’s matching algorithms try to tell if there are any commonalities that would tie you together.

Users can choose if they want their photos to be publicly or only shared with a group of people they’ve approved in advance. All friends and family members who can be seen by others must sign a release form and agree to rule that prevents them from appearing in any other user’s photos, or on anyone else’s walls.

By the time you’ve met somebody you’ve decided to go on a date with, any issues that Relayr raised about privacy and location-based dating probably won’t be a problem. But it isn’t the company’s job to be perfect. Just last week, the YMCA in Washington, D.C., announced that it would no longer be using the service for members because it had revealed that some of its members had been sharing photos of their kids publicly to all of their followers on Facebook.

People who take the time to put into creating nice relationship profiles may take some satisfaction from a look into what some potential matches are going through when they look at a timeline of their matches. But ultimately, this is more about how a business can ensure that it stays relevant and keeps people coming back to its app.

It should be interesting to see how people make use of new social apps like Relayr. Are users more likely to sign up for them if they learn about new ways to use location-based technology, which will be the only way they are able to talk to one another over the next couple of years? Are they more likely to sign up for these services if their options are to either choose privacy or a place to go? Will they try to go on dates with anybody they can see in their browser? Or will people always stick with something that just works? It’s almost like Tinder will never go away.

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