Do you want to send a kiss to your distant lover? A Chinese device with warm, moving silicone “lips” seems to have just the answer.
The device, advertised as a way for long-distance couples to share “real” physical intimacy, has caused a stir among Chinese social media users, who have expressed both intrigue and shock.
Equipped with pressure sensors and actuators, the device could mimic a real kiss by mimicking the pressure, movement and temperature of a user’s lips.
Along with the kissing motion, it can also convey the sound the user is making.
While many social media users saw a funny side to the device, others criticized it as “vulgar” and “creepy”. Some expressed concern that minors might purchase and use it.
“I don’t understand (the device) but I am utterly shocked,” said a top comment on Weibo.
On the Twitter-like platform, various 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 up with their partners on the app, couples can start a video call and send replicas of their hugs 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 college, I was in a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend, so we only communicated by phone. That’s where the inspiration for this device came from,” Jiang Zhongli, the design’s chief inventor, told the Global Times.
It said Jiang applied for a patent in 2019, but the patent expired in January 2023, and Jiang now hoped someone else could expand and perfect the design.
A similar invention, the “Kissinger”, was launched in 2016 by the Imagineering Institute in Malaysia. But it came in the form of a touch-sensitive silicone pad, rather than realistic-looking lips.
While advertised for long-distance relationships, the Chinese device also allows users to anonymously pair up with strangers in the app’s “kissing square” feature. If two strangers successfully match and like each other, they can ask to exchange kisses.
Users can also “upload” their plushies into 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 costs 288 yuan (US$41).
“My partner didn’t believe (distance) kissing was possible at first, so her jaw dropped when she used it… This is the best surprise I’ve given her during our long-distance relationship,” one user commented.