Valentine's Day: Bay Area searching for love through traditional, modern ways

Lauren Martinez Image
Thursday, February 15, 2024
Bay Area searching for love through traditional, modern ways
From speed dating to artificial intelligence, here's how Bay Area residents are writing their own love stories on this Valentine's Day.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Speed dating encourages strangers to meet face-to-face and what better day to take a chance on love than Valentine's Day?

'SF Quick Dates' hosted the event Wednesday evening inside the Avatar Hotel in Santa Clara.

Cupertino resident Felipe Silva said this was his first time going out after a breakup.

"It's nerve-racking right? Because there's a lot of new things," Silva said.

He hopes this could be the first step in getting to meet someone rather than a club or bar.

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"So it's a better setup where there's not loud music - it's simpler to talk and that's kind of the environment I prefer. I just got to give it a try," Silva said.

Los Gatos resident Yijun Liu said this is her first speed dating event as well.

"I actually stopped dating for the last five years and then I just feel like finally I'm ready. I used the last couple years to do some interwork, to grow, mature, to really learn about healthy relationships," Liu said.

Around 12 men and 12 women had rounds of 5 minute long dates.

"In the society we're in, I heard horrible stories from dating apps. You're missing a lot of signals from their facial expression from their body languages. So it's just so important to meet in person," Liu said.

Dating websites and apps are already widely used, but now Artificial Intelligence is changing the game as a new matchmaker.

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Ben Chiang helped create the app Volar Dating after years of experience using the dating apps.

"I actually met my current fiancé on Hinge so dating apps do work however I thought it could be a lot less painful," Chiang said.

With Volar, a simulated Chatbot breaks the ice between two users to kick-start the conversation.

"One of the keys that we found is a lot of people struggle to start the conversation with a stranger - myself included - but most people are able to continue a conversation that actually is much easier," Chiang said.

After a providing information and some photos, the AI will then connect and create unique conversations that differ from other matches on the app.

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"What we try to do is make it very, very clear, that the initial ten exchanges or so are AI to AI and then there's a line that says everything above this is AI to AI everything after that needs to be you building a real connection with another real human," Chiang said.

Volar is the Spanish word to fly.

"On one hand, we thought of it kind of like a wing man or wing woman," Chiang said.

The app launched only three weeks ago so there's no marriages or baby stories yet, but people are texting and meeting up on dates.

"I look forward to hearing those stories from people so if anybody has stories we'd love to hear them," Chiang said.

The hope is Volar can help build human connection, not replace it.

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