Who knew robots could help people find love? Apparently, they can. If you call finding algorithmic matches on Tinder love.

Nicole He is a grad student at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Programme. For one of her final projects, she built a robot that can swipe right or left on a Tinder profile picture based on your body’s responses. The robot’s actions, according to Nicole, are purely scientific; not guesswork.

Nicole says the robot is built with an Arduino, servos, a text-to-speech module, LEDS, some metal sheets that act as “a galvanic skin response sensor”, wires, a box and a speaker. You can check out her code on Github if you’re interested.

How the robot works

Nicole explains how the robot works:

“You put the phone down in front of the robot hand with Tinder open. Then you put your hands on the sensors. The robot will begin talking, telling you that you have a few seconds to look carefully at each Tinder profile. As you’re looking, the robot will reading your heart’s desire through the sensors, and then swipe on your phone for you, all the while announcing what it’s doing.”

It’s not like the robot reads your mind or emotions. It simply reads the sensations on your palm and makes a decision to swipe left or right; seeing that your physical reactions and sensations are controlled by your emotions. For example, when you’re anxious your palms become sweaty and your veins begin to pop when you’re furious. So the robot works on the physical results of your nervous system.

What inspired the project?

Nicole writes on her blog that her work was inspired by three other projects:

1. Social Turkers: Crowdsourced Dating (2013) by Lauren McCarthy

Lauren is one of her teachers. Her crowdsourced dating project gathered data streamed in realtime to “Mechanical Turk workers, who gave her feedback as the date went on.”

2. Lonely Sculpture (2014) by Tully Arnot

This project produced a finger that swiped ‘yes’ to every Tinder profile. This gave her the inspiration to use a lifelike hand for her own robot.

3. Tender (2015) by Cors Brinkman, Jeroen van Oorschot, Marcello Maureira, and Matei Szabo.

This is just meat that swipes right. Hence the name, Tender.


Alicia Marie Tan of Mashable writes that “robot also provides subtle commentary on how methodical and shallow being on Tinder really is.” I’m inclined to agree. But I hear there are those who have found true love on Tinder, so who am I to judge?

Nicole’s robot will be on display in New York at the ITP Winter Show on Dec. 20 or 21. You can go try it out if you have the chance. I won’t mind feedback from you.

Photo Credit: Mashable

David Adeleke Author

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox