If you're missing your partner and fancy a smooch, it's time to pucker up. Well, as long as you don't mind kissing an eyeless Mr Potato Head, that is.
A new messaging device, dubbed Kissenger, lets users send kisses wirelessly to one another. Unveiled at the Designing Interactive Systems conference in Newcastle, UK, in June, Kissenger comprises a pair of pressure-sensitive soft plastic lips which protrude through a smooth plastic casing the size of a large Easter egg.
The lips contain pressure sensors and actuators. When you kiss them, the shape changes you create are transmitted in real time over the net to a receiving Kissenger. There, the actuators reproduce the mirror image of the pressure patterns you created– magically transmitting your smacker to your partner.
"People have found it a very positive way to improve intimacy in communications with their partners when they are apart," claims Hooman Samani of Singapore-based Lovotics, which developed the device.
The device is a prototype and Samani says it will not be commercialised until "all the ethical and technical considerations are covered". He adds: "I am not interested in sexual uses for it."
How romantic – but also strangely reminiscent of the 1983 Steve Martin comedy The Man With Two Brains, in which Martin's crazed neurosurgeon character falls in love with a disembodied brain in a glass jar – so much so that he sticks a pair of lips to the container.
Kissenger is not the first gadget aimed at transmitting long-distance smooches. A French-kiss simulator arrived in May 2011 courtesy of the Kajimoto Lab at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo, Japan. Looking like a cross between a breathalyser and a hamster's water bottle, it featured a straw that, when rotated by the holder's tongue, moved a similar straw in a machine elsewhere, thereby transmitting the French-kissing tongue motion.
"I think that approach is too much and I find it kind of creepy," says Samani. "You don't need to transmit all the parameters of a kiss. The main aim is to improve long-distance relationships. We've taken several steps to minimise the creepiness."
If you would like