Let’s review for a moment.
The socially networked IZIVIBE and its companion app realized humanity’s boldest ambitions of fusing a vibrator with a smartphone case in the interest of letting couples enjoy a customized sexy, cellular screw at a partner’s mercy. The extendable fiber-optic Inner Selfie Stick lets a special or possibly unsuspecting someone have an intimate FaceTime experience inside one’s down-yonder. Now, the two-way Kissenger “mobile kiss messenger” delivers an uncanny haptic smooch from one distant lover to another instantly across any breadth of space between them.
Our apologies. We clearly overslept the moment simple phone sex and saucy Skyping became the more quaint, tame practices of long-distance lovin’.
Smirking sarcasm set momentarily aside, Kissenger bears fascinating fruit for such an awkward, ridiculous-looking device. When two smoochie-bears insert their respective iPhones into the plastic hardware and press their lips to the silicone pads during a FaceTime or Skype video call, haptic sensors accumulate data based on the pressure and pattern of both users’ lips. Actuators beneath each unit’s pad then push upward in real time to instantly reproduce one another’s registered pattern for a tender, rubbery “kiss.”
Who says romance is dead?
The Power Of A Kiss
Kissenger creator Emma Yan Zhang recently demonstrated her creation, an academically oriented PhD project developed in sensory technology pioneer Adrian Cheok’s lab at City University London, at a conference devoted to the future of love and sexual relationships between humans and robots. She openly pondered the ramifications and limitations of what she believes to be inevitable intimate bonds people will one day individually form with robots and other entities of artificial intelligence but ruminated without concluding whether such intimacy between humans and synthetic partners could be considered ethically acceptable. Nevertheless, she did wonder how sharing such an emotionally charged tactile expression of affection as a kiss could potentially alter how those relationships might evolve.
Zhang’s future experiments with a now-proven working prototype will assess both its “hedonistic” and simpler aspects alike in a laboratory setting. For example, one experiment will examine how humans in existing relationships rate its usability and the pleasure their experiences ignite. Another will measure Kissenger users’ heart rates, blood pressure, and other physiological data to gauge how responses to stimuli from a remote kiss compare with the sensations of a true smooch.
Finally, Zhang plans on implementing Kissenger in a rather novel Turing test. Two anonymous individuals will lay a virtual lip-lock on a subject who will then rate the feelings of pleasure and empathy derived from each partner’s kiss. Here’s the catch: only one kiss will come from a flesh-and-blood human. The other will be produced by a computer program engineered to replicate the real thing’s typical pressure patterns. Will the subject be able to tell the difference? That’s the fun part.