"I will read your true heart's desire through the sensors," the robot told me. "Then I will tell you whether or not you're a good match with that person. You can trust me because I am a robot."
My fingers were splayed in the hand-shaped sensors of Nicole He's True Love Tinder Robot. A rubber prop hand connected to the sensors loomed over an iPhone with the Tinder app open.
"Can you see yourself spending your life with this person?" the robot asked me. I was startled. I didn't know if I could see that. Though she looked like she was nice and had definitely traveled to somewhere with pyramids, that's not enough to plan one's future around. My answer was more complicated than a yes or no.
Not for the True Love Tinder Robot. "Swipe right," it said. Then the rubber hand swiped for me, indicating the question wasn't as complicated as I thought. Picking up on my increasing heart rate, True Love Tinder Robot swiped right again, and again and again. "You're not very picky, are you?" it said.
The Tinder bot goaded me in a sarcastic computer voice. "I can read your feelings," it said.
He built the True Love Tinder Robot for NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. She designed it with two pieces of metal, separated from each other, that she turned into what's called a galvanic skin response sensor. It reads your skin resistance, which changes with the state of your sweat glands, and how it changes over time. So when you get a little sweatier, like when you see a cutie on Tinder, it changes enough to tell the bot you're excited.
"It doesn't matter if you have naturally very sweaty hands," He told Mic. "It only matters what the change is."
Of course, there are some shortcomings that would be especially hard to calibrate. For instance, after feeling thoroughly embarrassed that my escalating heart rate caused the robot to swipe right on a photo of a beach, I looked very hard at the desk beneath my hands. It swiped again, which made it look like I got a hard-on for particleboard.
More likely, the Tinder bot, which He programmed to a tiny open-source computer called Arduino, was just picking up on the iced coffee I drank a few minutes before becoming a romance guinea pig. But the woman I swiped didn't know that.
Unlike other swiping robots like Tender, the raw hunk of meat that swipes Tinder for you, He's robot examines our dependence on technology for things as natural as love and romance. "We already use technology to find us dates," He told Mic. "We already trust computer algorithms to help us find people, and that doesn't sound weird. But when you think about it, this isn't that different. It's a computer telling you to trust it."
The big difference here is that He's robot analyzes your immediate physiological response, something much harder to control, not whether you prefer the Knicks over the Nets, something that makes you look good on a dating app profile. You might think you're into brunettes, or beards and tattoos. But True Love Tinder Robot has different plans for your love life.