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Despite being blamed by the United Nations for causing a cases amongst teens in Asia, dating or ‘connection’ apps continue to weave their way into the fabric of society, thanks to the leading players in the market like Tinder, and the surprisingly popular Christian Mingle. While themselves only a few years old, these large-scale platforms are challenged by even newer kids on the block, with a string of startups working to disrupt the connection experience. Combining psychometrics, or the measure of one’s psychology, with machine learning, the Affinity platform generates an “Affinity Score” which is used to match users on the platform. Essentially, the app matches two “like-minded” people based on things they enjoy, outlined by the answers to a set of questions a user provides when they sign up to the platform. Leveraging the data, Affinity wants to empower its machine learning capability to be able to recommend users “almost anything”, as the startup’s cofounder Jay Stockwell explained. “The score allows people to find other like-minded people, but it also makes it possible to create a universal discovery capability where we can recommend almost anything based on what ‘people like you’ did before you, ” said Stockwell. All based on what like-minded people before you have done. ”Moving into a new city with his wife, Stockwell said he had trouble meeting new people, which became especially difficult considering he worked from home most of the day.

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“When I finally met people on my wavelength, it was totally by chance. For example, I became friends with a guy who was house sitting a place I was inspecting to buy, ” recounted Stockwell. “I noticed his music taste was the same as mine and liked how he had a quiver of Vans sitting in the cupboard. We started chatting and instantly hit it off. I ended up being one of his groomsmen, and he’s still one of my best friends today. “I always thought it was kind of weird how we pretty much just randomly let fate connect us with like-minded people. The research showing how important high-quality social connections are to health and happiness just pushed us over the edge to do something about it. ”The push to do something about it resulted in Affinity. A user signing up to the app is met with 95 questions used to vet their personality, values and hobbies. Based on the answers, the platform soon churns out an Affinity Score, which determines how different or similar one user is to another, broken down by 75 different “dimensions”. “We use machine learning to apply weightings to both the questions and the 75 dimensions to make the score more accurate at predicting like-mindedness, ” explained Stockwell. “Some questions might end up being not very predictive, and others very predictive.

For example, it might end up that a similar taste in music might be more important than sharing a similar personality trait. ”Users on the app then receive a list of potential matches sorted by Affinity Score in descending order, with the highest possible Affinity score to reach set at 6555. Knocking away geolocation boundaries, the app will match users from around the world, as well as in their local space and among their Facebook friends list. If a user wants to see what Affinity score they have with a friend, they can search for another user by their username. Once the list has been formed, users are able to look into another s profile to view their similarities and differences, which have been defined by the algorithm. As well as Facebook, a user can also attach other social profiles to the platform, including Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, Goodreads and Youtube, enabling users to gage each other s interests. “If you have a premium Spotify account, you can play the tracks themselves. We are after authentic connections, so it helps to see what someone is about all in one place via their other social profiles, ” said Stockwell. “If you like the look of someone you can throw them a ‘High-Five’. If they high-five back, we then unlock chat for you both to get to know each other better, similar to a Twitter direct message. ”The high-five system also functions similarly to other connecting apps in the market, including Tinder and Bumble, which enable users to communicate once they’ve matched with each other. Also leveraging this system are the slate of other connection apps in the market, including TwoPeas, which matches users based on the weight they give their interests and values, and, which pairs like-minded users together to share an experience.

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Founded by Meray Azar, the idea for Epic Catch was incepted from a feeling that a number of entrepreneurs behind connection apps experience dissatisfaction with the leading platforms in the market, leading to a desire to improve upon the traditional model. As the slate of connection apps continues to grow, so does the emergence of connection app ‘fatigue’, often referred to as the “ ”. As connecting and romancing online looks to trump the traditional discovery experience of meeting someone in person, an increasing number of millennials are responding negatively to connection platforms, vocalising their thoughts online or posting their dating app ‘ ’. However, despite the thoughts of vocal groups on social media, data shows that the connection app market continues to surge, and is expected to grow year-on-year. According to the from Statista, global revenue in the online dating market reached approximately US$6. 66 billion last year, and is predicted to grow to nearly US$7 billion by 7576. “Whether it’s travelling, studying, running, partying, inventing, working, singing or living, it’s always better doing it with people on your wavelength, ” he said. “We’ve then taken lessons learned from our days predicting credit defaults in finance and applied machine learning to those dimensions. As a result, every dimension and every data point is automatically weighted by its predictive power of a connection happening, ” he explained. “This complexity is simplified for the end user with a simple Affinity Score. ”Supporting development with an $655,555 grant from Advance Queensland, the startup will be looking at setting up a model where brands can join the platform, where users would discover or match to a brand and their products based on what similar people have liked. Using the machine learning feature, Stockwell said the possibilities for the app are extensive, and will help to serve not only the future revenue model, but upcomming features for the user too.

“Not only is it useful to find like-minded people, but we can also use that data to help you discover all the cool stuff they are enjoying, ” he said. “For example, if you just signed up for a brand new Netflix account, one day we could make great recommendations on what to watch before you’ve even pressed play, simply by looking at what other like-minded people are watching. ” Kirsten Akens 7/77/67 6: 65pm 85 Share to Kinja Go to permalink Researchers at Boston University studying deceased football players’ brains released earlier this week on the potential connection between the athletes and long-term neurological conditions, and the results were damning. To wit: of the 666 NFL players included in the study, only one was not diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Most commonly believed to be a boxing-related disease, CTE, according to the, is a progressive degenerative disease that impacts those who have suffered from repeated blows to the head. Football has been the sport getting the most recent headlines, but those involved with the BU study are worried about another group of concussion-riddled athletes: soccer players. While it may be seen as less of a contact sport than football, players routinely head the ball in soccer, and BU researcher Ann McKee told that it’s not the how of the impact that matters, but the repetitiveness. Teams and governing bodies are paying some attention, mainly due to early-retiring players and lawsuits. S.

Soccer Federation set new regulations and guidelines for youth players, the result of a proposed class-action lawsuit filed against U. Soccer. Included in those parameters was a policy prohibiting ball heading for those aged65 and younger, and reducing the amount of heading for those age 66 to 68. Studies are difficult across all sports, because medical researchers say that CTE can only be determined through post-mortem testing of the brain. The BU study was the largest CTE case series ever published, but its authors are pushing for an even wider-ranging longitudinal study, in addition to seeking out potential CTE biomarkers. His hopes to understand how injuries might affect and change the brains of current amateur players through bloodwork, MRIs and brain games. Patrick Lucas Austin 8/79/67 6: 85pm 66 Share to Kinja Go to permalink Image credit: /Flickr Google Home owners will probably be talking to their living rooms a lot more thanks to an update that lets the voice assistant. It’s one of many recent updates granting the smart home device more features and compatibility with other services. The calls are made over Wi-Fi, with numbers pulled either from businesses or your Google Contacts list. Saying the phrase “Hey Google, call Dad” is enough to get your pop pop on the horn (in speakerphone mode, of course).

If you share your Google Home with someone else, its voice recognition capabilities will ensure you call the appropriate patriarch. Google may be playing catch up with the Amazon Echo, but Google Home already has a bunch of…There are a few bugs Google needs to iron out to make this a truly seamless calling experience, however. It also doesn’t have 966 call support.

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