It’s a Wednesday afternoon, and Kamakshi Zeidler, a 34-year-old plastic surgeon in Los Gatos, California, is explaining how to fill up a “love tank.”
“If you do little things for your partner... you get signals your love tank is full. And if you don’t, you’ll get signals that your love tank is almost empty. It’s based on how much you love each other. Well, through the app,” she adds.
Zeidler and her husband Brendon form a satisfied, if busy, pair. Both work long hours and have little time for spontaneous romantic gestures.
The “love tank” Kamakshi describes is one feature of a “couples’ app” called Kahnoodle. A 2011 addition to the app market, couples’ apps target spouses in a demographic sweet spot—old enough to need reinvigoration in their relationships, but still young enough to be tech-savvy—and offer a counterintuitive, strangely Anthony Weiner-friendly service: an intimate social network, built for two.
But San Francisco-based Kahnoodle explores a new frontier of couples-app potential.
“It’s basically gamification of your relationships,” says Sonja Poole, a pleased Kahnoodler and 43-year-old associate professor at the University of San Francisco.
Gamification is a buzzword referring to the use of game concepts, like point rewards and badges, to engage users in non-game, or “real life,” situations. The website Lumosity gamifies intelligence training through animated exercises, and loyalty-based businesses like Belly use reward programs and badges to pull customers into affiliated restaurants. Foursquare encourages loyalty by awarding mayorships to frequent visitors of stores and restaurants.