It wasn't so long ago that online dating boasted a massive stigma, namely the idea that it was nothing more than a passport for complete losers and outright malefactors to find victims in a quick and easy fashion. But like so many things before it—remember when online banking was a sure way to have your life savings stolen--time and success has changed online dating, and converted it into the kind of thing that people will, you know, actually use and feel good about using. But online dating comes with troubles of its own, and one of these is the issue of people's faces online. Truly.am, a creation of coders from of all places Uruguay, may actually have the answer that people need.
Exhibited at the TechCrunch Europe hackathon, Truly.am takes some tools that are pretty exciting in isolation, and combines said tools in a way that helps keep online dating a much more honest pastime. With Truly.am—which brings together things like HTML5 and Web-based real time communications (WebRTC), as well as the SkyBiometry facial recognition system—users simply take a picture found online and upload said picture to Truly.am via simple online interface. The system can not only allow users to upload a stored picture, but can also use a “get it from the Web” option via the simple expedient of the “copy image location” function that's commonly available.
Once the picture has been uploaded, users then give the system the e-mail address of the person in the picture, which then starts said person on a bit of an ordeal to prove that the picture and the person match up. Those whom the photos allegedly belong to will use webcams to train the Truly.am servers' facial recognition algorithms, which will then compare the photo against the webcam footage sent in. If the photo matches—or doesn't as the case may be—then an e-mail is sent off to both the requester and the user to notify both of the match's status.
Reports indicate that the idea is set to expand to include information from a variety of other sources, including groups like LinkedIn and Xing, but for now the app is available to use from the webcam angle. Of course, something like this does beg some simple questions, like what happens to the poor schmoes out there who aren't in possession of a webcam. That's not exactly the kind of thing that passes for good news—online dating's tough enough for many without being told that the newest barrier to access is that “you don't have a webcam”--but given how many laptops, tablets and smartphones are coming equipped with said technology these days, it may well be that this isn't such a problem after all. Issues of resolution in webcams don't seem to be addressed here either, but then, that may be because the system is prepared to work with cameras of all resolutions.
Still, interjecting a note of honesty into online dating may not be a bad thing after all, though it likely won't prove welcome for the cosmetically-challenged folks out there. But a relationship built on honesty is much more likely to survive in the long run, and the end result is likely to be more satisfying anyway. Truly.am will likely have plenty of takers as online dating continues to catch on.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi