Kissenger -Add A Kiss to Your Message

The haptic internet is coming fast, and it can get seriously creepy. I have talked about remote haptics for a couple of years, and looked at puppets, taste, and, of course, gropey underwear.

Let’s add to the array of networked haptics with “Kissenger”, the Kissing Messenger app. Technically, this haptic kissing interface is supposed to receive and give the feeling of kissing lips, “a realistic kissing sensation”. The main intended use is to agent a personal conversation on your mobile device with a kiss. The web page also suggests that it is “for families” and “for fans”.

Photo: Emma Yann Zhang

Looking at the images, I can’t help but wonder just how “realistic” this might be. I’m confident that no one would ever be fooled into thinking this was a real, face-to-face kiss—there is no breath, or slobber, or warm skin. It’s a pretty chaste kiss, if I may say so.

Naturally, I immediately think about the “wrong” ways to use this device.   I mean, you can press the device against any part of your body, no? Or against any thing at all. Things can get pretty nasty, pretty fast.

Their use case “for fans” is pretty troubling when you think about it, “To connect idols and their fans from all around the world.” Ick!.

That makes me think of using this as a token of submission. The dictatorial CEO expects you to bow and (remotely) kiss his whatever at the end of the meeting. Ugh!

What you can’t do, though, is really kiss each other with passion and intensity. There is kissing your auntie, and then there is really kissing your lover. The latter is part of a complete embrace, and can be edgy, unpredictable, and messy. (And scarcely restricted to the other person’s lips.)

This work is part of PhD research by Emma Zhang at Professor Adrian Cheok’s lab. We know Cheok from earlier research, so we are not surprised to see imaginative and daring ideas. We also can be confident that there will be some careful experiments to assess just how people perceive the experience, and how well they like it.

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