Virtual dating soon a reality with new app

On Planet Theta people can meet up in virtual parks, beaches, cafes and nighclubs.
On Planet Theta people can meet up in virtual parks, beaches, cafes and nighclubs.

App developer Chris Crew says most first dates are terrible.

"People are afraid ... there's alot of rejection on both sides," he told AAP.

Still, he met his partner Aurora Townsend on Tinder about two years ago and together they are solving the problem of awkward first encounters by making an app so people can meet up in virtual reality instead.

Planet Theta is the first virtual reality program dedicated to dating, designed for Oculus and Steam VR headsets by their company, FireFlare Games, which is based not in Silicon Valley but Wyoming.

While people can find love with a headset on in apps such as VRChat, Echo VR, Facebook Venues and AltSpaceVR, these aren't specifically designed for dating, and catfishing or creating deceptive online identities is a constant issue.

"There is nothing that is well regulated and for adults only, and focused on dating ... we're the only game in town," Mr Crew said.

On Planet Theta people can meet up in virtual nightclubs, parks, beaches and cafes, and they can use the settings to choose meeting others who live in the same area or elsewhere in the world.

And, as the developers note - there is no pandemic on Planet Theta.

First dates only last for five minutes, which Mr Crew believes is extremely convenient.

"You can go on four or five first dates in the time it takes the average person to just get ready for one in-person date," he said.

Unusually for a dating app, Planet Theta will encourage its users to create avatars that resemble their real-life appearance and verify that they have done so.

"We are trying to encourage people to look like themselves ... what we don't want is people to enjoy their date looking like a model and then find out they really look like normal people," Mr Crew said.

The developers have used high-end UK designers Dashvisual to make their dating venues, with a virtual forest a particular favourite for Mr Crew.

"Some of the scenes are just breathtaking; you walk up to these massive trees and they make a tingle go up your spine," he said.

Virtual reality may not seem mainstream at the moment but in the US about 60 million people use VR at least once a month.

Mr Crew expects between two and five million people will log on to find virtual love when the app launches in 2022.

Australian Associated Press