Eros – The smarter way to make the most of your relationship

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Eros –
The smarter way to make the most of your relationship

Our concept is rooted in the value of using artificial intelligence to enhance human-human romantic relationships for young adults already in them. The service is essentially a romantic relationship coach and assistant, wrapped into the convenience of an app. The five features are all aimed at helping young adults learn more about themselves and their partners, such that they are better able to build intimate, committed, passionate relationships (present and future).

MA2 – Team 3

Alison Maggioncalda
Beibei Sun
Min Huang


WHAT? 

Tell us what the concept is about. What are you designing? What are the key benefits?

Our concept is rooted in the value of using artificial intelligence to enhance human-human romantic relationships for young adults already in them. The service is essentially a romantic relationship coach and assistant, wrapped into the convenience of an app. The five features are all aimed at helping young adults learn more about themselves and their partners, such that they are better able to build intimate, committed, passionate relationships (present and future).

PERSONALIZED DATE RECOMMENDATIONS
Core value prop: Make planning great date nights easier
How it works: Invite Eros as a 3rd party in your messaging thread, and it uses your past conversations, calendar, mood, and geography to suggest date ideas. Once both partners contribute to a full “like”, Eros can add the event to your calendar and help book it.
Purpose/outcome: Help busy couples reignite passion/excitement, grow closer over shared interests, and shift energy from finding a date to actually being present and engaged on the date.

MOOD-TRACKING CALENDAR
Core value prop: Enables better understanding of emotions in relation to how you and your partner spend time, over time.
How it works: Import your existing calendar to Eros, so that it knows where, when, and with whom you spend your time. Using biometric data from wearables and pushing one-question mood surveys, Eros tags days by mood and runs regressions to surface associations between time spent and happy vs. unhappy days.
Purpose/outcome: It enables self-discovery for an individual about the happiness value of time spent and helps couples recognize trends over time, so that they are better able to communicate needs and see the ways in which both partners are investing in the relationship.

DISCOVERY EXERCISES
Core value prop: Build reflection of self and partner into relationship routine
How it works: Questions and exercises related to sex, beliefs, past experiences, future plans, and much more are delivered at a cadence set by you. There would be a mix between answering questions or doing tasks alone versus together.
Purpose/outcome: This fosters intimacy, communication skills, recognition of what couples value in both present and future, engagement and positive emotion, and even novelty and passion.

PAST AND FUTURE MEMORY COLLECTION
Core value prop: Organizes important moments and enables envisioning future ones
How it works: “Pin” your favorite videos, photos, voice messages, and text messages with your partner with one click, and then Eros will organize them into a memory timeline. Additionally, pin aspirational content to a shared future board with your partner.
Purpose/outcome: Create an artifact to encourage positive emotion and foster exploration of future plans visually.

SUPPORT RESOURCES
Core value prop: Connect you to experts, peers, and even a more compassionate you
How it works: There are three component parts — the ability to get expert help efficiently and affordably via your phone, an algorithm to “scrape” existing stories related to an issue one is facing and personalize suggestions, and a functionality to record learnings/advice for yourself but then play it back in another voice based upon self-therapy techniques published in Nature.
Purpose/outcome: The goal is to make people feel less alone in their experiences, strengthen their social support networks, and encourage reflection related to misinterpretation and misdelivery through the stories of other people.

Overall, the service is greater than the sum of its individual parts. For example, date recommendations can contribute to positive memory timeline. Discovery questions can help give more thoughtful date recommendations and/or help someone process what they see in their mood calendar. The mood calendar can help capture positive memories, inform date recommendations, and influence what discovery questions/exercises are delivered. All of this information can be supplemented by support resources. Thus, the features build upon one another to respond to a variety of relationship pain points and increase the agency one has in creating happiness within the context of romantic relationships.

WHY? 

Tell us some of the key findings of your background research and what is the problem you are trying to address.

Many relationship beliefs and practices have changed in recent years. For instance, consider the rise in living together before marriage (900% increase over the past 50 years), popularity of dating apps (the online dating industry is estimated to be worth over $2.5 billion in the US alone), changing views on “opening up” a relationship sexually (a 2016 study found that more than 20% of Americans report engaging in consensual non­monogamy in their lifetime), and the ubiquitous use of messaging, video chatting, and social media in our romantic relationships.

What hasn’t changed, though, is that most people seek romantic relationships with some extent of commitment. Even marriage, which seems traditional and perhaps outdated, is something that 86% of single Americans aged 18 to 34 desire. Additionally, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher claims that technology cannot possibly change our desire to be in love. Whether the label on a relationship is marriage or not, it is a deeply evolutionary drive to be in love, not just an emotion.

We found Yale psychologist Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory of love to be helpful in terms of anchoring our exploration of romantic relationships. We explored the areas he identifies — intimacy (trust and closeness), commitment (effort and dedication), and passion (excitement and longing) — in our interviews with over ~30 young adults. Six key issues emerged from our interviews related to these three dimensions of love:

The main problem with passion was essentially, “I am not sexually fulfilled in my relationship”, but it was the symptom of two more root issues — 1) Expression, where someone knows what they like sexually but doesn’t know how to express that to their partner or 2) Self-discovery, where someone doesn’t feel like they know themselves sexually.

The main problem with intimacy was, “Tension arises in my relationship when my partner and I misunderstand each other.” Again, there were two dimensions to this, albeit very interconnected. 1) Misinterpretation, where one partner incorrectly assumes the intentions of another and 2) Misdelivery, where one partner doesn’t frame a sentiment in a thoughtful way in relation to their partner.

Finally, the main problem with commitment was, “I don’t feel like my partner is on the same page as me in terms of investing in the relationship.” The two main dimensions were Present versus Future. In the Present, partners perceive gestures of effort differently — say one shows effort in terms of the amount of time spent together, while the other values words of affirmation. For Future, issues can arise when one person has a timeline or goals for their future and the other isn’t as sure.

WHO? 

Tell us something about your users and key stakeholders involved.

We have a fairly broad target user base: 20-30 year olds in relationships that they see as going “somewhere” (not just casual hook up scenarios). We predicted that women would be more receptive to a relationship coach-type service, and our early A/B test did indeed have a higher proportion of women clicking our ads than men. That said, the “coach” framing of the service won for both women and men over the “concierge” positioning, and ~30-40% of clicks were from men.

Despite the focus being young adults, our expert interviewees (futurologist, psychotherapist, and AI fiction writer) all mentioned how helpful this could be for adults outside this age group, particularly older married couples as they navigate big changes in their relationships like moving to a new place, having a first child, children going off to college, retirement, etc. None of our features — date recommendations, the mood calendar, discovery questions/exercises, positive memory collection, and support resources — have an “expiration date” for use.

Beyond the users themselves, stakeholders could include health professionals and therapists, as some of the data could yield benefit if used in those contexts outside the app.

WHEN? 

Give us an idea of the future scenario where your project will be working. 

Our concept is not very speculative. AI is already being used in the realm of romantic relationships — the two obvious markets are dating apps and sex robots. On one hand, we have algorithms matching people to find dates. On the other hand, we have AI being used in sex robots to some extent replace the need for dating. For Millennials and Gen Z, convenience is king, and the goal of our project is to conveniently give individuals in relationships information and tools to increase their sense of agency in building fulfilling romantic relationships with their current or future partners.

WHERE? 

Tell us if you have thought of a specific location where to prototype.

Since our ads were in English, we ran the A/B test with only USA and UK. That said, we are certainly flexible in terms of future prototyping. Our team is Chinese and American, so most of our networks are in those countries.

HOW? 

Give us an idea of your strategy, your process, your prototyping plan and the next steps.

Major milestones in our design process were creation of a secondary research framework, pain points identification through interviews, persona creation to root ideation, a first cycle of prototypes to gage initial reactions, and a second cycle of prototypes to validate the desirability. More detail can be found in our video and poster.

In order to do our validation phase of Instagram A/B testing, we didn’t get to dive nearly as into our round 2 concepts as we would have liked. There are several themes from our first round of prototypes that we want to explore more — authenticity, personalization, willingness to share data, and potential adverse side effects of our features on a relationship, to name a few. Every one of our features could be prototyped in several different ways to explore these themes. Two of our three team members plan to take this project forward for the next two terms, regardless of Alpha involvement, but we would love the opportunity to partner with Alpha! Thanks very much for your consideration.