It appears that Chatroulette, which is alive and well and abundant with dicks at 9 AM EST (long may internet anonymity live), has been tamed by a new company into a more manageable dating app form. On Blindlee, which launched in October, you may now fish for potential mates over three-minute video chats, with varying degrees of blurriness. The app bills itself as more woman-friendly, allowing woman users to sharpen the image, in four increments, at any point in the conversation if the man agrees. (Based on the limited mandatory selections, this is only for heterosexual gender-conforming userbase; co-founder Sacha Nasan tells Gizmodo that they’re shooting to update that by January.)
You can see a sample blur here:
If you manage not to run out of things to say to a stranger in three minutes, which is like five elevator rides, congrats! You can mutually decide whether to keep the conversation going via in-app text. If you do run out of ideas, Blindlee offers an optional list of randomly-generated ice-breakers from the thought-provoker “If animals could talk, which would be the rudest?” to the classic turn-off “Never have you ever…?”
While users can filter only by age range, Nasan tells Gizmodo that Blindlee aims to add criteria like religion and perhaps the option to scroll through profiles and pick and choose.
Blindlee’s still in its infancy with just 5,000 users, mostly in London, and currently, it’s only available to U.S. users in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. But online dating is pivoting to video, whether we like it or not. The hoity-toity members-only dating app The League, which screens for careerist college graduates, just unrolled a two-minute FaceTime option, and China’s most popular dating site now reportedly invites users to connect live over conversation topics or karaoke. If you think horniness and karaoke sound like a match made in hell, Tinder’s added a choose-your-own-adventure streaming service that matches users based on their horny adventurousness. All of this activity indicates that Chatroulette is on the cusp of being one of those platforms that turn out to be more influential than successful.
Aside from the fact that I can only call men, Blindlee’s minimal design is kinda nice, in that you don’t get to see their faces or profile pics when or before making the call–you have to judge a person by their conversational skills. Although that’s not exactly the thinking behind the video match-ups; Nasan tells TechCrunch that it’s a way to screen for misleading profiles, inspired by his cousin’s experience of a dating app meet-up with a guy who turned out to be much older than he’d presented himself in his photos. Needless to say, it also ensures a dick-free zone, if ladies so prefer, which is bad news for lookalikes of human erection Jeff Bezos. Promising for Blindlee, Nasan and co-founder Glenn Keller also tell TechCrunch that it’s attracted the coveted under-30 user base, which tracks with the ages listed on calls I’ve been making.
Alas, no one’s picking up in my tests, which I’ll chalk up to the fact that it’s mid-morning on a workday rather than the possibility that a bunch of Gen Z dudes can see my old age listed next to my name. As I later discovered, however, they can call me at any time throughout the day whether or not I’m using my phone. Like Chatroulette, they can also hang up on me immediately. Thanks, Jonathan.