Users of a new dating app choose an avatar and are paired up by AI
Would you accept a blind date from a giraffe or a grasshopper?
A free, new dating app asks users to hide behind an animal avatar and answer playful questions to find a match, instead of swiping right like on Tinder.
An algorithm pairs them up based on their answers, but they remain anonymous and can’t see each other’s pictures during their first chat until they both decide to reveal their identities… or not.
Lua is an app that aims to make dating feel more like a “playful mystery” and less like online shopping, says CEO and Co-founder Roni Makatu. It launched in July and now has over 10,000 active users.
It starts off like a regular dating app, asking the users for their gender, age and range of the people they want to meet.
After that it gets a bit weird. It asks how you’re feeling, and provides answers from a dropdown menu that include “feckless” and “shimmering”, or “awesome” and “eager”. Each answer will give the user a variety of animal avatars that they can choose from, such as a wolf, caterpillar or flamingo.
Lua’s matching system is guided by users’ responses to prompts(called Sharings), developed by intimacy experts such as:
- Share a photo of something that makes your eyes sparkle.
- If you were to pick the place for us to go on a date, where would you take us? Show it in a picture.
- What are you passionate about exploring? Show or tell.
- You’ve been commissioned to write a memoir of your life. What’s the title and why?
- What happened on the best birthday of your adult life?
Users can type, or answer with a voice note or a photo. There are new Sharings every day, as well as popular favorites such as how much you enjoy spending time alone, or the three words friends would best use to describe you.
The app shows you other users, either as anonymous animals or with their full profile (depending on their choice) and their answers, which you can like.
Lua’s algorithm then presents the user with a mystery match – one of the people whose answer they liked (and who liked theirs in return). But the user won’t know who they are.
The mystery match asks both users to answer three prompts such as “Share something exciting from last week”; “What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done and would you do it again?”, and “Finish this sentence: for me, sensuality is _____.”
The first question is answered through text, the second one is answered with a photo, and the third is answered through a voice message. Conversations follow each question until both users decide to move onto the next one.
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The user can then choose whether they want to reveal their profile or not. This is the ‘spark’ moment.
More than a dating app
The aim of this gamified app is not just to make dating more fun, but to allow people to connect more deeply and express themselves better, says Makatu.
“I wanted to have a place where the majority of people are deeper and are more into personal growth,” he tells NoCamels. “This app is not only for the ‘hippie community’, it’s for anyone who wants more depth in their personal and dating life.”
Prior to developing the app, Makatu had 10 years of experience with Ecstatic Dance, aworldwide movement that empowers people of all shapes and sizes to freely express themselves and dance without talking or drinking. He brought the movement to Israel, and held festivals, workshops and retreats.
“These events are not alcohol-driven or male dominated. People generally feel safe.
“I thought – how can I take that beautiful place and scale it to the online world? How can we scale intimacy?”
The app’s version of online dating allows people to engage more, and feel safer. Only 24.2 per cent of Tinder users are women, while 57 per cent of Lua users are women, according to Makatu.
Together with Co-founder Dor Kitenberg, he is making Lua more than just a dating app. They are creating a community that hosts and shares workshops and other events to expand people’s consciousness, and encourage personal connection and development.
The Tel Aviv-based company is also developing a feature to help users find places near them that will encourage personal development, such as workshops. Users can go with a partner, or by themselves.
The app is currently fundraising, and has launched a crowdfunding campaign for $1 million with Israeli company Pipelbiz. Within the next two years, Lua plans to target 20 additional cities in the USA, Europe, and Australia.