A Chinese start-up has invented a long-distance kissing machine that transmits users’ kiss data collected through motion sensors hidden in silicon lips, which simultaneously move when replaying kisses received.
MUA – named after the sound people commonly make when blowing a kiss – also captures and replays sound and warms up slightly during kissing, making the experience more authentic, said Beijing-based Siweifushe.
Users can even download kissing data submitted via an accompanying app by other users. The invention was inspired by lockdown isolation. At their most severe, China’s lockdowns saw authorities forbid residents to leave their apartments for months on end.
“I was in a relationship back then, but I couldn’t meet my girlfriend due to lockdowns,” said inventor Zhao Jianbo.
Then a student at the Beijing Film Academy, he focused his graduate project on the lack of physical intimacy in video calls. He later set up Siweifushe which released MUA, its first product, on 22 January. The device is priced at 260 yuan ($38).
In the two weeks after its release, the firm sold over 3,000 kissing machines and received about 20,000 orders, he said.
The MUA resembles a mobile stand with colourless pursed lips protruding from the front. To use it, lovers must download an app on to their smartphones and pair their kissing machines. When they kiss the device, it kisses back.
The device is available in several colours with the same unisex lips. It has received mixed reviews, with some users saying it was intriguing whereas others said it made them feel uncomfortable. Among the top complaints was its lack of tongue.
Online reviews were mixed. One person described it as feeling like “a warm pacifier”.
“Very uncomfortable, it doesn’t feel like a real kiss,” they said on Chinese online shopping platform, Taobao.
Others said it had helped their long-distance relationships. “In the past … I can see her but I can’t touch her, but now there is a product that helps us to realise the kiss.”
Another reviewer said it was a fun product “even if you are single”.
Some commentators on social media site Weibo also expressed concern that the device could be used for online erotic content, which is strictly regulated in China.
Zhao said his company complies with regulations, but that “there’s little we can do as for how people use the device.”
MUA is not the first remote kissing device. Researchers at Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications invented a “kiss transmission machine” in 2011, and Malaysia’s Imagineering Institute made a similar gadget called the “Kissinger” in 2016.
Chi Hui Lin contributed to this report. With Reuters.