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October 28, 2013

Will WebRTC Change Online Dating?

The Internet has changed almost every part of our lives. On a day-to-day basis, we are banking, searching, shopping, working, networking, booking and communicating over a browser and Internet connection. Dating is no different – 40 million Americans use online dating services, according to Match.com, and one-third of U.S. marriages begin with online dating. But that doesn’t mean dating has become any easier. There are still personalities to like, interests to blend, goals to admire and appearances to attract. A new website, View N Me, sets to change the dating game again with the advent of real-time online dating with video speed dating.

The biggest driver behind Lindsey Lachman and Eric Friedman – View N Me co founders – to form this website was the one-dimensional experience that online dating currently provides. They both experienced online dating and were becoming frustrated with the time and effort that goes into meeting and talking with someone online, only to meet in person and face the reality of an inaccurate profile, and recognizing immediately there is no connection.

“After weeks of ‘courting’ someone online – exchanging messages, sharing photos – just to meet in person and within the first two minutes of walking up to the person, say to yourself, ‘Wow. You are nothing like the person you are online,’ is frustrating,” Friedman said. Or there are even reverse scenarios, where you end up meeting someone who does have great chemistry and does match with their photo, but it didn’t translate well online, which means people might pass up on pursing them via dating sites.

The solution, Lachman and Friedman believe, is adding a more realistic component to online dating: video capabilities.

“You can see the person, true to form, and interact with the person directly, so within a short period of time know if this is something worth pursuing in a live date or not,” Friedman said.

View N Me membership options are a basic membership, which gives users four speed date sessions and unlimited one-on-one dates per month, and a premium membership, which gives users access to unlimited speed dates and unlimited one-on-one dates each month. The first 500 members to sign up receive free unlimited membership.

The website also offers other traditional dating website features such as written profiles and email, but continues to add another dimension by allowing users to upload a video profile. It also eliminates algorithms and the time-consuming questionnaire process that traditional dating sites require to set up a profile. The length of time to set up a profile based on these questions and then using that information to match up who is “good” for you (just because I like camping and you don’t doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be compatible) is a pain point in online dating that View N Me removes.

“The biggest challenge presented to us was trying to create a dynamic video chat service for a group of people all at once,” said the View N Me Web development team from Ruckus Marketing. “The ease in which one can partake in a speed dating session is one of the key components of ViewNMe. During a speed date session, there are multiple participants rotating through three-minute individual video chats. When the timer goes off and everyone switches dates, the transition has to be simultaneous as well as seamless for everyone in order to be worthwhile. While time-consuming, we knew that in order to have a viable business model, we had to bring the authenticity of meeting singles in real life onto the Web and I feel that ViewNMe is proof that this is possible with real-time video.”

Image via Ruckus Marketing

The key to guaranteeing high-quality videos for all users stems from paying close attention to the amount of required bandwidth for any given action, the developers explained. They have to make sure there’s enough to allow for a smooth transmission of data and, in return, smooth real-time video play throughout the site, no matter how many users are on the site at any given time. In order to account for this kind of growth, View N Me was created as a scalable infrastructure. More and more people are utilizing online dating as a way to meet people – 11 percent of Internet users have used an online dating site --and View N Me took that into consideration from day one to ensure no hiccups or setbacks when it comes time to expand the site.

The company does not use WebRTC; it uses Adobe media server for the video chat component of the site using Flash technology, so browsers do not have to be WebRTC-enabled, allowing for more people to gain access to the site and services right now.

“WebRTC was a consideration, however, as we considered the build for our initial launch, we wanted to make sure we included browser compatibility for as many users as possible. While WebRTC is a great project and we look forward to potentially including it in our future releases, it has limited backward compatibility (IE 7 and 8 for example). We focused on Flash because most browsers come with it pre-installed, and it can be easily updated by upgrading the plug-in,” the Web development team.

Although View N Me does not yet implement WebRTC to enable the video component of the website, it poses the question of potential use cases for WebRTC in the future. There has been a lot of discussion about enterprise communication, contact center added value and customer experience interaction, but this is an innovative use case of changing and improving a common online interaction today – which is what WebRTC sets out to do. WebRTC is not necessarily a new groundbreaking technology, but rather, is enhancing the online experience today with new capabilities.

In a session at the upcoming WebRTC Conference & Expo, Joe Burton, CTO and SVP of technology at Platronics, will cover the opportunities, impacts and realities of WebRTC in an Internet of Things world, and the role WebRTC will play in the future of communications and technology. Learn more about Burton’s session and more at www.webrtcworld.com/conference.

Want to learn more about the latest in WebRTC? Be sure to attend WebRTC Conference & Expo, Nov. 19-21 in Santa Clara, Calif. Stay in touch with everything happening at WebRTC Conference & Expo. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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