What does the future hold for dating? From the looks of it, virtual reality, DNA testing and wearable technology will be part of the picture.

A student report from Imperial College Business School in the United Kingdom – commissioned by relationship site eHarmony – looked at what online dating and relationships could probably be by 2040.

The report analyzed over 100 years’ worth of trend data and interviews with experts in multiple fields.

Here are some key findings:

Full-sensory virtual dating

The report predicted that in 25 years, the rate at which data is shared will be so rapid that all five senses could be simulated digitally for a full-sensory virtual reality. Think of this virtual date with Mr. or Ms. Right as exactly like the real one, where a person could hold another’s hand or smell her scent from the comfort of his own living room.

Wearable technology advances are also projected to let people meet in virtual reality, regardless of where they are in the world.

DNA and biotechnology

The increasing affordability of DNA sequencing – which is forecasted to drop from around £52 million (about $78 million) in 2003 to £650 ($977) nowadays – is seen to allow people to see how DNA can be part of the attraction or “matching” process in 2040.

Behavior-based matching

The combination of the “Internet of Things” – the rising hyperconnectivity between tech devices – and wearable technology can potentially transform dating in 25 years, such that singles need not describe themselves in words but can be part of behavioral tracking.

“A product such as Smart Contact Lenses could track the type of people you look at most frequently when your body produces the signs of attraction,” stated the report.

Big data

Artificial intelligence could pave the way for increased “deep learning” through the processing of staggering amounts of highly intricate data from numerous sources.

Singles on a date would immediately receive information on their actions and surroundings, while couples could better identify relationship issues or calculate the optimum time for marriage and other milestones in life.

Romain Bertrand, the UK country manager of eHarmony, noted that by 2040, an estimated 70 percent of couples will get together in cyberspace. “Technology [will be] revolutionizing the way we find love and build our relationships,” he said.

Previous research offered a peek into the future of dating and relationships. For instance, a separate study conducted by a team from Toyohashi University of Technology and Kyoto University in Japan found that humans can empathize and possibly fall in love with robots despite knowing they do not harbor feelings.

The researchers made the discovery after an experiment on human responses found that there were similar immediate empathy levels to both humans and robots.

Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simões | Flickr

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