Familiar Interface

My primary concern was making my interface feel familiar and inclusive, and my user testees knew how to use the card-swiping gesture. 

The Quantifiable (Dating) Self

I added a dashboard showing real-time data about the user. Hormones fluctuate depending on what users eat, where they are on their menstrual cycles, and even how often they exercise. Health and dating are inextricably linked. Users can choose to see how their hormones and pheromones are affecting who they're attracted to and who they'll probably attract in return. 

In-Depth Data

I created this page because: 1. Numerous psychological studies show that people tend to distrust information they don't fully understand, even if that information comes from reliable sources. 2. My target audience (rightfully) distrusted dating app algorithms and wanted to see how the algorithm interpreted specific data points. 3. They also wanted to learn more about themselves through numbers. 


Dating app users worried that they appeared more attractive on their profiles than in real life. They also wondered if they were missing out on great matches who were less photogenic but attractive in person because of other factors, such as the way they carried themselves or their voice. They also hated others fixating on their looks, but still wanted to see pictures of others. Videos can allow them to show others their in-person personalities and how they actually appear, which will create less anxiety when they meet in person. 

Opt-out Onboarding

I wanted to simplify the onboarding process as much as possible, as long onboarding processes (surveys, "About me," posting profiles pictures, forms) were the reason why people didn't want to use apps like OkCupid. I wanted to give users the option of opting out of this by simply posting a video of themselves.

This project is part of a 12-week class focused on app design. Sonmi is a dating app that syncs with an e-nose-embedded wearable. The e-nose (electronic nose) is a microdevice that can detect and distinguish odors in real-time using sensing receptors and a pattern recognition system. The Sonmi device will collect and analyze users' hormones and match them by their genetic compatibility via an algorithm. Spring 2015.


The Challenge

How can online dating better address the nuances of attraction and compatibility?

The Science of Attraction

I began by researching how people become attracted to each other in the first place. My hunch was that it went beyond physical attractiveness and sharing some interests and values, and I was kind of right. Attraction was a complicated machine and dating apps have only scratched the surface.


Smell plays a major role (approximately 40%) in how people select their mates. For example, gay men given anonymous sweat samples preferred the scent of gay men, while straight men preferred the scent of women.


Dr. Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist who asserts that there are four broad styles of thinking associated with four basic brain systems: dopamine, seratonin, testosterone, and estrogen. All of us carry a combination of thse chemicals, but we often express some more than others. These systems can be indicative of the kind of person we may fall in love with.

Genetic Compatibility

Biologically compatible partners enjoy more satisfying sex lives, greater marital stability, and increased fertility rates. Even their children are healthier, as people who are genetically compatible have semi-opposing and, thus, complementary immune systems. They also find each other more attractive on the whole.

I then interviewed around six people with different levels of online dating experience. I also downloaded a variety of dating apps, deep-diving into what I perceived as polar opposites OkCupid (Survey-based, city-based) and Grindr (which was based on your immediate location.) I wanted to know what outcomes these methods brought about, and whether they were more or less successful in relation to each other and their target audiences.

Suyu Ren

"I dislike Tinder because it feels too casual and people can be flakey"

"Hard for me to feel motivated to meet strangers"

Asli Akdemir

"I don't like how dating apps are too centered on appearance"

"I don't know if I'm swiping left (rejecting) people I could be compatible with."

Jason Kang

"Great for breaking out of your social circle"

"Can't get to really know people from sending messages."

Alejandro Alvarez

Dislike posed photos, would like to see how people are really like.

Miss the quirks and nuances in online dating.

Carolyn Ni

"Usually would have a short conversation with person before meeting. Gross pick-up lines are a red flag."

"(Annoyed by) men who constantly want more pictures of me before actually meeting me."

Aska Cheung

Difficult to carry conversations with people.

Too many troll accounts.

Competitive Analysis

SWOT Analysis


Innovative Tech

Combines online & traditional dating

Extensive Research


Partnership with smartwatch makers

Partnerships with pheromone labs

Personalized devices

Sweat sample kits

E-Nose able to detect STDS



Services matching people based on genetic compatibility exist, but still a niche market

Apps with large databases




Privacy Concerns

Needs databse

How the E-Nose works

An electronic nose (e-nose) is a device that identifies the specific components of an odor and analyzes its chemical makeup to identify it. These are its specifics:

(0.2117 cm x 0.2117cm)


Distinguish body odors from perfume/deodorants, etc.

Distinguish pheromones from two different individuals

Product Ideation

My interviewees wanted a wearable that others won't be able to notice because they still felt that online dating was taboo. They also complained that meeting people online felt unromantic- they wanted mystery, a chase. By suggesting a nearby match rather than showing the user who it was explicitly, the user would have to venture out to find this person. I didn't have time to develop a wearable in class but I'm in the process of designing one now.



Donna Maier, 29


"If only there were a way to know who I’d definitely feel a spark with so that I’d stop wasting so much time going on dead-end dates."

Uses Tinder, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish

Needs  Avoid awkwardness, Waste less time 

Goals  Meaningful relationships, Socializing

Dislikes  Meaningless conversations, Comments on appearance, Wasting time

Testing with Prototypes

Design Decisions

User Flow


Next Steps?

Functional Prototyping

I am currently prototyping a device and system around Sonmi. Below are some photos of my initial testing process, during which I expect to make changes to my app and its system diagram. Stay tuned for the final product!