Japanese matchmaking firms get high-tech lift from gadgets and AI
Artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies are starting to play a role in matchmaking as they increasingly wind their way deeper into people’s lives.
Today’s high-tech gadgets are now being used to give people greater knowledge of potential mates, details from hobbies and smoking preferences to whether they have walked down the aisle before.
At a konkatsu (marriage introduction) party held by matchmaking agency Zwei in June, participants wore wristbands. When they shook hands, their profiles would show up on a tablet computer, facilitating conversation.
“Oh, I see you’re a movie lover!” said one attendee, taking cues from the tablet computer. “Do you drink at home?”
In April, as a way of smoothing over and deepening communication between the participants, Zwei adopted a technology dubbed “intra-body communication” that starts or stops with human contact.
Those at the June event were encouraged to ask more in-depth questions presented by the tablet, such as “What would you do if you received ¥1 million ($9,140)” and “Would you prefer dual-income” in a marriage?
“There are questions that you hesitate to ask a woman you’ve just met,” said a 47-year-old man from Kanagawa Prefecture. “But the party was good because I could get a sense of how a potential partner valued money and their work ethic.”
The technology has improved its matchmaking success by 10 to 20 percent, Zwei said.
“We will accumulate data about successful topics of conversation to hopefully raise marriage rates,” a company official said. “We hope to create a system that can recognize destined soulmates” in the future, the official added.
While Akita is known for its “Akita bijin” (“beauties of Akita”), it has the lowest marriage rate in the 47 prefectures. To raise it, the Akita Prefectural Government will launch an AI-based matchmaking service this month.
The new service will use an AI system developed by Partner Agent Inc., which provides support for marriage introduction services, to find potential spouses for registered members. While those who register will need to answer over 100 questions, the AI system will analyze their answers and recommend partners based on data about past relationships and other variables that might determine a good match.
Previously, registrants needed to go through the time-consuming process of visiting one of Akita’s three prefectural matchmaking centers. Then they had to wait for the staff to arrange the introductions.
The new system cuts through the paperwork, allowing them to complete the process via computer or smartphone.
The Fukushima and Saitama prefectural governments have adopted similar systems, leading to improved marriage introduction activities and government efficiency.
Noting some young people are reluctant to visit matchmaking centers, an official at the Akita Prefectural Government said, “There’s no hassle to register. We hope more do so and find a splendid partner with the help of AI.”