Long-distance Kissing Device Hits Indiegogo, but Will It Sell?

Mobile attachment lets you smooch your honey from miles away. 

Long-distance relationships are tough. Sure, it’s now simple to shoot a loved one a text or make a video call. But seeing and hearing aren’t the same as touching. And there’s the rub. Or, lack thereof.

Fortunately, a new gadget from the Imagineering Institute, a research lab based in Malaysia, hopes to bridge that gap. Its kissing simulator for smartphones, the Kissenger, is now available as a perk through the company’s Indiegogo Campaign.

The future of kissing

Haptic devices, which reproduce tactile sensations, have been with us for several years now. But most that are designed for intimacy focus on the genitals. For example, both Kiiroo’s interactive Pearl vibrator and Onyx sex sleeve sync together to simulate sexual intercourse with a long-distance partner.

The Kissenger, however, is not simply intended to connect with absent lovers. It was also designed for more casual and less erotic applications such as sending a smooch to friends or family during a video chat. It aspires to “complement the social bonding required” to maintain long-distance relationships.

While it bills itself as the “world’s first mobile kiss messenger,” the device concept has in fact undergone several iterations. First pioneered by Hooman Samani, Director of the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Technology Laboratory at Taipei University, it initially resembled a round, cartoonish animal, complete with googly eyes. A subsequent version looked more like a microphone. Both seemed like strange kissing partners.

 

This latest Kissenger is much simpler, designed with mobility and smartphones in mind. Developed by Adrian Cheok, who worked with Samani on the original designs, it looks a bit like a smartphone stand with puckered lips on the base.

When a user kisses these pressure plates, the information is transmitted to the recipient’s device over the Internet with actuators mimicking the kiss. According to the institute’s Indiegogo campaign, the technology makes it possible to transmit “realistic kissing sensations” in real time.

Time to pucker up?

Of course, as seen in the prototypes, the kisses that the device reproduces involve only lips. So sorry, no frenching! That might not be such a bad thing. I for one am definitely not ready for a mechanical tongue lunging at me from my smartphone.

The question is: are people ready for the Kissenger? On paper, the idea of adding intimate physical touch to video chat has obvious appeal. But is the prospect of a simulated peck from a silicone-covered pressure plate enough of a draw for potential backers? If it is, and the device becomes popular, will it be purchased more as a novelty or for regular use?

The idea offers other fascinating possibilities. Could kisses be recorded and “played back” at a later date? Perhaps as part of a voice or video message? Samani designed his Kissenger for use with virtual characters as well as long-distance lovers. Will the Imagineering Institute’s device have the same flexibility?

We’ll have to wait and see. If you’re intrigued, the Indiegogo campaign promises two units for $299, with an estimated delivery date of February 2019, provided the campaign receives sufficient funding (or your money will be returned).

At the time of writing, the Indiegogo campaign hasn’t yet garnered a backer or any funding since launching in mid-June.

Image sources: Indiegogo, Imagineering Institute