Filter Off permits digital pace courting for locked-down singles

You can go on blind dates, but there is no accounting for chemistry. This, Zach Schleien knows.

He recalls how occasionally before an offline date, he would ask potential partners to hop onto a video-chat with him to see if a real-life date was a possibility. “A video chat gives a general sense of chemistry. So to take out the awkwardness of a real date in some situations, I decided to create a platform where people could just decide via a FaceTime-style video-chat. I wanted to create something that would promote more authentic connection, though it’s not always a guarantee,” he says.

In screenshot: Zach Schleien ; how the virtual events appear in users’ Filter Off calendar
 
| Photo Credit:
Filter Off

Enter Filter Off, ideal for those who do not like texting on dating apps, and want a go at speed dating, virtually. Zach understands that not everyone is comfortable with video-calling strangers. However, his app, Filter Off has seen a lot of growth during the lockdowns around the world. “When Tinder first came out, no one wanted to admit they were on it. And though the pandemic has been awful, it has culturally pushed people to accept video and chat with strangers as well,” he points out. “I see a new paradigm coming into play, one I did not expect to manifest so quickly.”

The catch? The app, free to use for everyone in the available countries, only allows the user to have a video-chat with someone they have matched for a maximum of 90 seconds, emphasising its placement as an introducer. “If people end up liking each other after 90 seconds and want to explore more, they can take the initiative,” says Zach simply. He says the app has drawn the most users in New York and London, with the Indian market fast gaining traction.

Ask Zach if this is just a posher version of Omegle or Chat Roulette and he responds, “These other apps’ goal is to connect people quickly over video, regardless of age or preference. With Filter Off, we take into account your gender interest, radius, age preference; so after you video-chat with someone on the app, you can decide for yourself whether to match with them or not. Plus, we have robust reporting features to ensure a safe experience for everyone.”

One for all

How location-focussed events appear in Filter Off’s UI

How location-focussed events appear in Filter Off’s UI  
| Photo Credit:
Filter Off

During the lockdown, the app has kicked off interest-based virtual events. Zach explains that he wanted to perfect this for regional markets in the country. One of Zach’s team members is from India so getting the cultural nuances right was key. There are also religious events happening on Filter Off, because it matters to many potential couples.

He adds, “Now you see the events you can RSVP, and one hour before the event we ask people to confirm ‘attendance’ to avoid people from no-showing. When we added text messaging notifications, attendance actually shot.” Zach also wanted the app to have a clean look to keep the video-chat aspect in focus.

In terms of security, Zach says explains that any data is stored on-device, and Filter Off has no interest in acquiring or selling personal data. He is also adamant that the video chat feature does not have any visual filters, hence the name to double down on the importance of being straightforward.

Filter Off is iOS- and Android-compatible.

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