New way for singles to meet — the digital zap

New way for singles to meet — the digital zap

By Dana Ford 8.3.2007

For people who think they’ve heard
every pick-up line in the book, here’s a new one — let’s zap
each other.

The line is not likely to work everywhere but at parties
hosted by OneKeyAway, it might, with the Los Angeles-based
company hosting singles’ mixers with a technological twist.

Before parties, guests register online and complete
questionnaires. The answers are then transferred to digital
memory devices — red, plastic squares slightly larger than a
matchbox — that the guests wear like necklaces.

During a party, people point their devices at one another
to check how compatible they are. The devices flash red, yellow
or green, depending on their level of compatibility.

Green means go, and red? Stop.

Edwin Duterte, a banker and founder of OneKeyAway, said he
hopes the devices put personality on par with physical
attraction.

Duterte said he started OneKeyAway in 2004 because he had
trouble meeting women, with his height of 5 feet always proving
to be a drawback for him.

"I didn’t have a clue how to meet people," said Duterte,
37, who moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago. "All the
relationships I had took a back seat. When you’re so into work,
you lose your skills."

Aida Diallo, an outgoing 33-year-old from Los Angeles,
wouldn’t say she’s lost her people skills — just her time.

"Here’s the thing," said Diallo, sipping a cocktail and
scouting the crowd at an upscale bar in downtown Los Angeles.
"I have zero time to meet people but I want to be married at
some point. I’m trying to meet someone interesting."

While online dating seems to have become a preferred method
for meeting people in a fast-paced society, Duterte said Web
matchmaking has one main drawback — lack of personal contact.

"There’s no interaction anymore," said Duterte. "We’re
adding the human touch to a high-tech industry."

The parties, usually held once a week, force people into a
social situation and the compatibility keys give people a clue
as to whether they want to talk to someone or not.

But the compatibility keys are not always the only element
that draws people together. Ask party-goer Bernie Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, an ex-military man, arrived early to a
OneKeyAway event and sat at the bar and waited. Soon, the
automotive instructor was talking with a woman — despite the
fact they were not compatible, based on their keys.

"All this is is an icebreaker," said Rodriguez, looking at
the device around his neck. "We were red, but we’re taking a
chance on each other."

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