This week, hundreds of millions of couples around the globe celebrated Valentine's Day. They bought chocolate, flowers, greeting cards, and made dinner reservations. They booked hotel nights and long weekends. It's an industry that is worth an estimated $20.7 billion in the US alone.
And the culmination of all that spending? Presumably, some of these couples intend to have sex as a result of all this planned romancing on the big day.
But the reality of relationships of any duration between any couple is that sexual intimacy isn't always planned. It's something that tends to happen spontaneously. When one person is interested, the other person may not be in the mood. This is problematic for a number of reasons. When one person asks or initiates, there's the always the fear of rejection, and then there's the awful feeling of the one having to do the rejecting.
This is increasingly a stress on any modern relationship. We have many things on our minds. We have careers that can be stressful and exhausting. We have children that add to that fatigue and cut into the time when we can be intimate. And, as we get older, our drive for sexual intimacy tends to slow down, so there are less opportunities for doing so.
Not knowing if your partner is interested leads to overall reduced opportunities for sex. At least, that's the premise behind LoveSync, a Kickstarter project that seeks to solve the age-old problem of coordinating sexual intimacy between couples.
LoveSync is implemented as a piece of hardware -- a button with a lighted display that sits at the bedside of each respective partner. When one partner is interested in intimacy, the button is pushed. If the other partner also pushes their button within a designated time window (which can be adjusted on each device with successive button pushes), both devices light up with swirling green LEDs.
It needs to be an app
I think this is a great idea. But, honestly, I would rather not have another piece of hardware plugged into my side of the bed. I already have way too much junk there. I have a CPAP machine, all kinds of chargers for my smartphones, various mobile accessories, and my iPad -- it's a huge mess. And Alexa is sitting there. Waiting. Listening.
The hardware is great, but this also needs to be an app. For a lot of reasons.
What if you get the mood at work and are thinking about it for later? What if the two of you are on vacation? Are you going to bring the buttons with you? What if the hardware breaks or malfunctions?
Everybody owns a smartphone. The folks at LoveSync have countered the argument that not everyone keeps their smartphone by the bedside, and in the evening, notifications are silenced. They also cite the reliability of mobile data connections being an issue.
OK, I get that. But there is no reason why you can't combine the two -- have the buttons at home, and have the app for mobile use. Ideally, you'd want the buttons connected to the same cloud service as the app. So, everything is synchronized.
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Add Alexa into the mix
Most of us already have a big lighted spinning LED in our bedrooms: It's called Alexa and the Amazon Echo.
All you would need is an Alexa skill tied into the cloud service. When both people hit the button on their app, the Echo's LED ring can be programmed to issue a notification -- a pretty chime, a blinking yellow. You know, the very same one that is used to issue package notifications.
So, if you have Echos all over the house like David Gewirtz, and they are blinking yellow, you've either got a box of potato chips, iPhone cables, and spools of 3D printing filament at the front door, or it's time to get busy. Just ask Alexa to read the notification. Program it with whatever you want her to say when the time is right. Run a voice clip of George Costanza's girlfriend talking about the merits of pastrami or a classic Marvin Gaye riff or even Borat.
And who doesn't own a smartwatch these days? Make an Apple Watch complication that issues a notification and vibration from the app on the iPhone. And a similar app for WearOS and Tizen for Android users. Ding! Who says you can't have a dual smartphone platform relationship?
Expand the functionality
There are other things an app for couples would be great for, like coordinating date schedules for social events. "Honey Do" list tracking. Private, secure texting. There's an app that does some of this already, called Couple, which has a private shared photostream (like Instagram) and texts.
If you combined this with a cloud service for LoveSync-type functionality as described, I think it would be a fantastic tool for keeping relationships of all kinds healthy.
So, do we need an app for that? Talk Back and Let Me Know.
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