The content originally appeared on: CNN
Want to send your faraway lover a kiss? A Chinese contraption with warm, moving silicon “lips” appears to have just the answer.
The device, advertised as a way to let long-distance couples share “real” physical intimacy, is causing a buzz among Chinese social media users, who have reacted with both intrigue and shock.
Equipped with pressure sensors and actuators, the device is said to be able to mimic a real kiss by replicating the pressure, movement and temperature of a user’s lips.
Along with the kissing motion, it can also transmit the sound the user makes.
However, while many social media users saw a funny side to the device, others criticized it as “vulgar” and “creepy.” Some voiced concerns that minors could buy and use it.
“I don’t understand (the device) but I’m utterly shocked,” said one top comment on Weibo.
On the Twitter-like platform, several hashtags about the device have racked up hundreds of millions of views over the past week.
To send a kiss, users need to download a mobile phone app and plug the device into their phone’s charging port. After pairing with their partners in the app, couples can start a video call and transmit replicas of their smooches to each other.
According to China’s state-run Global Times, the invention has been patented by the Changzhou Vocational Institute of Mechatronic Technology.
“In my university, I was in a long distance relationship with my girlfriend so we only had contact with each other through the phone. That’s where the inspiration of this device originated,” Jiang Zhongli, the leading inventor of the design, was cited as saying by the Global Times.
It said Jiang had applied for a patent in 2019 but the patent ended in January 2023 and Jiang now hoped someone else could expand on and perfect the design.
A similar invention, the “Kissinger,” was launched by the Imagineering Institute in Malaysia in 2016. But it came in the form of a touch-sensitive silicon pad, rather than realistic-looking lips.
While advertised for long-distance relationships, the Chinese device also allows users to pair up anonymously with strangers in the “kissing square” function of the app. If two strangers match successfully and like each other, they can ask to exchange kisses.
Users can also “upload” their smooches in the app for others to download and experience.
On China’s largest online shopping site Taobao, dozens of users have shared their reviews of the device, which is priced at 288 yuan (US$41).
“My partner didn’t believe that (remote) kissing could be achieved at first, so her jaw dropped when she used it … This is the best surprise I have given her during our long-distance relationship,” one user commented.
“Thank you technology.”