Making out over the Internet just got a whole lot easier. A new two-way digital kissing gadget called the Kissenger will allow remote lovers to translate their branded kiss into a digital form and back again, straight to the lips of a user hundreds of miles away.
The device uses a complex set of sensors to measure the lip shape and intensity of a kiss, relaying the information to a paired Kissenger device on the other end, utilizing a set of actuators to emulate the properties of the original kiss. In its initial prototype, the digital kissing apparatus looked more like a Mr. Potatohead with lips than anything you’d willingly smooch, though the company has mercifully given the gadget a makeover with version 2.0. The current Kissenger prototype comes in a more cutesy animal shape (not much of a relief), but it looks as though it may have lost some of its more complex lip shaping technology during the transition from its original concept.
According to the Kissenger website, the device is intended to be used in a variety of social encounters online, including video chatting with another person and interactions with online avatars. Expect to be more embarrassed than ever when it comes to the uncertainty of gender identities on the internet: “That level 40 Night Elf you’re smooching is a dude, and he just wants free gear.”
Lovotics, the company behind the online kissing apparatus, was formed by Dr. Hooman Samani of the National University of Singapore. With his artificial intelligence projects, Samani aims to bring the loving functions of humans into the realm of technology through robotics. Samani’s other projects include an interactive, fluffy robot that produces artificial hormones similar to those of the human endocrine system, and a miniature robotic doll meant to emulate the presence of a loved one while they’re away.
It’ll be interesting — really interesting — to see if any of Samani’s robotic love devices ever make their way onto the consumer market. In the meantime, just imagine your future MacBook with a nice set of virtual lips resting next to its built-in iSight camera. It’s okay if you’re not sure how you’d feel about that.