A theory seems to be floating around the internet -- perhaps it’s an old wives’ tale, or perhaps it’s steeped in truth -- but the idea is that everyone has seven “twins,” or lookalikes, who exist somewhere in the world.
And with about 7.4 billion people on the planet, you never know. Maybe it’s true.
Either way, Philip Kampff was intrigued by the idea. So he, along with several others, launched Twin Strangers, which is now an app and a website where people can upload a photo and, potentially, find their own lookalike or doppelganger.
The process of getting the site off the ground wasn’t quite as quick and easy as we just made it sound, but we’ll get to those details. For now, check out these videos. Can you believe these people below are not related?
And how crazy is it that the focus of the video, a young woman named Niamh Geaney, has not one, not two, but three “twins” -- all of whom she got to meet, in connection with the website?
Twin Strangers, which launched in 2015, now has about 4.3 million people in its database. The site is very user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Here’s how it works: If you’re interested in finding your so-called twin stranger, you set up an account. That part is free. I did so using my laptop, but you can download the app if you’d prefer to use your mobile device.
You fill out a few basic details about yourself (such as your name, where you live and your birthday) and then upload a photo. The site gives you some tips on what constitutes a strong picture. For example, make sure your head isn’t tilted; it’s best if you keep yourself centered -- advice like that.
And then Twin Strangers will show you a sample match, meaning, someone who looks similar to you based on AI facial recognition software. Your matches are ranked -- the ones who are the closest to you physically will appear first, or at least, that’s the general idea.
You can view your sample match for free, and then to access the rest of your list, you have to buy credits. On a laptop, 10 credits (which breaks down to 10 chances to enter a photo) will run you $5.99. On the app, you can buy three searches for $1.99.
I found that each time you upload a photo -- again, which is one credit -- you get about 200 “matches.” In my case, some were pretty convincing. No, not nearly as convincing as those three videos you just watched above, but I could see what the system was picking up on.
Other times, I felt as though the order in which my matches displayed, was a bit off. Some of my "best" matches -- according to my friends and family -- weren’t the ones who matched with me, for example, at 81 percent. Some I found on page five of my results, so I had to do a little digging.
The people over at Twin Strangers recommend uploading a good variety of photos. Keep in mind, said Kampff, who is the site's managing director, you might look a lot different in your LinkedIn profile photo than you do when you’re lazing around the house in sweats and without makeup. The more pictures you submit, the more likely you are to find a match.
Below are some of my better matches, in case you’re curious. I'm the one on the left in both photos.
My coworker Dawn tried out Twin Strangers, as well. Full disclosure: they put 20 credits in my account so that we could play around with the features. Here’s Dawn’s best match, which was decided by the two of us, with input from her husband. (Oh, and it should be noted that Dawn already has a twin! But they’re not identical, so we still thought this would be fun). Dawn is at left.
That’s the other thing. It’s actually a little harder than you’d expect, to find a match for yourself. I was thinking if my own husband or my mother were sitting with me at times, perhaps it’d be easier to pick. But again, Dawn and I didn’t have any matches that were SO convincing that we were floored.
However, the cool thing is, about 15,000 people join the site every week. Just because we haven’t found a perfect match yet, doesn’t mean that our matches don't exist. Maybe those people just haven't uploaded their photos yet.
Perhaps we'll find a match next week. You just never know.
Once you find someone you think is a match, you have the option to “star” that person, which sends out an email. That’s how connections are made. If Twin Strangers learns of a pretty convincing match, they might even arrange to film a meet-up, if both parties are interested, of course.
In the early days, users would contact the site, saying, “We found a match!” Now, Kampff said, the people behind the scenes can look at the data on the back end, asking for matches. “Show us the best match from yesterday,” they might say.
Currently, Twin Strangers' team is working with one of the biggest TV stations in Japan on a project involving celebrities who are trying to find their "twins."
“And we still keep an eye out. We’re always looking (for more matches),” Kampff said. “We’re constantly trying to improve. We want to go one step further.”
In October or so, they’d like to find a match between residents of the U.S. and the U.K., if possible. They’d also like to integrate DNA tests someday.
“So if you found a match, we want to see if you share any hereditary background,” Kampff said.
Geaney's story -- shown in those YouTube videos above -- really proves what an emotional experience it can be, meeting someone who looks just like you. For more on her meet-ups, and how the Twin Strangers platform came to be, click or tap here.