Michael Wainberg was like any other U of T student suffering from a crush when he came up with the idea for LoveInterest, his new dating app. “I was sitting in class daydreaming about someone I was interested in,” he says. “I thought, Facebook has friend requests, why not have a relationship request? Then I realized I could actually make the thing myself.”
After some research, Wainberg created LoveInterest, an app that uses Facebook to faciliate romance between friends and acquantainces. The app aims to reflect the unique reality of dating in university. Due to the larger network of people that may surround a student, the chances are higher that a special someone is within reach — just waiting for you to reach out and make more significant contact than a casual poke. The Varsity interviewed Wainberg about LoveInterest and coding for love.
The Varsity: What does LoveInterest do? How does it work?
Michael Wainberg: LoveInterest is an app that helps you find romance with your Facebook friends. You can select a friend as a love interest, and they will get a notification that they have a secret admirer — but they don’t know who selected them. When your friend also selects you as a love interest, the two of you are notified that you selected each other, and you can take it from there. The app gives users complete anonymity: nobody can see that you are a user unless you specifically request it.
TV: You did some research on online dating before embarking on this project. What did you research and what did you find? How does the design of LoveInterest reflect your findings?
MW: I realized that there was a hole in the market. There were two types of relationship apps: traditional dating apps that match strangers based on shared interests and personalities; and hookup apps like Tinder, which are just about physical attractiveness. But there was no app for people to find romance with their friends and acquaintances.
TV: Were there any challenges in coding the app?
MW: It was fairly straightfoward overall. The main challenge was to make it secure, so that hackers cannot impersonate other people or see their love interests.
TV: Have you had any success stories from LoveInterest yet?
MW: So far, 164 love interests have been selected and there have been 4 matches. We haven’t heard from them yet, but we hope they’re happy!
TV: One of the interesting things about LoveInterest as a dating app is that it doesn’t attempt to match compatibility. As a user, you have complete control over who you interact with. Is it possible to code for compatibility? Can computers calculate romantic interest?
MW: Oh, absolutely. People have put a great deal of effort into making computers better at calculating whom you are most likely to be interested in. But no matter how good computers get, you still know best who you would like to have a relationship with. LoveInterest empowers you to make that happen.