A year since Match’s artificial intelligence chatbot Lara came to Facebook Messenger, daters can now use her as their personal wingwoman through the Google Assistant. Yes, that's right I said wingwoman. "Lara can be my wingwoman anytime." Cue the climatic emotional music and hug it out! (As a quick aside, did you see Tom Cruise posted a picture from the production of Top Gun 2? Simply wow).
In a UK first, this innovation is the first time that a dating coach has come to a smart home device. The new service offers you a unique ‘daily match’, bespoke dating tips and suggestions of the best date venues, all through informal conversation.
And about time! For all those that are reading my dating blogs, you'll appreciate I have a personal vested interested in this technology. This introduction of Lara from Match paired with Google Assistant can change the game in dating. Or should I say up YOUR game. (Deep referential sniff).
You can strike up a chat with ease by saying, “Okay Google, talk to Lara from Match”, and through artificial intelligence and key word recognition technology, Lara understands your intentions and can hold a full conversation to help you though your dating journey.
This will come as great relief to my closest friends who must feel like they're only in my rolodex to serve as a soundboard to my dating woes. And that's something I must change.
They'll attest to being my counsel when I need advice on what to wear, where to go, and even who to date! Now Lara does exactly that. I imagine at some point that technology will reach that point of singularity and I'll be sending Lara on these dates.
ME - "Hey, honey how was your date?"
LARA - "Oh she's way out of your league Carl, plus she supports Chelsea, I should have flagged that up sooner, sorry".
Of course I jest, but Lara proactively encourages continuation of conversations by offering further dating tips and asking if you need any more advice. The more you chat to Lara and the more she gets to know you and the more tailored her answers will become.
So what tips has Lara given me so far?
I like the confidence booster tip.
“Strike a power pose and stand there for at least 2 minutes before your date”.
I have employed that one. Makes sense to me to find a good relaxed posture and look that doesn't feel forced. You might consider it the Everest of male vanity, but it’s all about projecting a positive aura that others can latch on to. I stop short of slapping myself round the face and saying 'you've got this'. I save that for Kobox.
Lara has also sent me daily matches to my phone based on the criteria I've given her.
ME - Lara find me Scarlett Johansson
LARA - You're looking for someone that looks like Scarlett Johansson
ME - No find me Scarlett Johansson, the real thing.
(Yes I know that's a gag lifted from the BBC sitcom Bottom, for those about to email me accusing me of plagiarism).
For Match members only, Lara will help you find a date by selecting a unique member profile based on your Match search preferences (age, location and common interests) once a day. The profile details of the daily match can then be sent to a phone via SMS, allowing you to seamlessly contact your potential date.
There are plenty of features, but I'm really just giving you a taste of my experience.
I also found the location finder a handy tool. I know London fairly well, but finding those best kept secrets is getting increasingly harder.
Lara can offer suggestions for the best date location. She will ask what kind of date setting you are looking for and use Google Map’s Geocoding API to make a recommendation, such as the best place for cocktails or a quieter place for coffee.
Providing you give permission, Lara will then offer to send you the details via SMS with a link to a map. The more you chat, the more Lara will learn from your dating experiences and then suggest more relevant locations in the future, based on your feedback.
Is this the future
A great question. Certainly the advance of chatbots have advanced immeasurably in the past couple of years.
They've become a useful tool for businesses (so much so I'm looking at installing one to assist my customers on my Hawkins & Shepherd site as we speak). For example They certainly alleviate the mundanity of replying to everyday questions such as 'do you deliver abroad?'. Most common ones are 'what time are you open?'.
Chatbots do not require breaks, get frustrated or get tired like human employees. According to some experts, chatbots will be indistinguishable from humans by 2029. Scary or good news?
Before you go
For anyone about to try this new-fangled technology you should know the daily match functionality is only available for Match members. You need be signed into a Match account with Google for Lara to offer the matches.
We are always looking at the role technology can play in improving our member’s experience to offer them new ways of meeting their potential dates that will easily fit in with their busy everyday life.
Building upon the success of Lara on Facebook, we wanted to enhance and explore the possibilities of AI, which has provided us with a great outcome so far.
We look forward to developing Lara further as technology evolves.”
Enjoy Lara (that sounds weird) and let me know how you get on.