Long-distance relationships may have just gotten a lot easier, thanks to a new phone that is capable of transmitting the real life sensation of a kiss, according to New Scientist.
The kissing phone is one of several new prototypes with a focus on tactile telecommunication. While conventional smartphones can transmit auditory and visual messages, they can't transmit the touch or feel of another person. But what if you could actually hold hands with the person you're on the phone with, or even feel the softness of their breath as they whisper sweet nothings in your ear?
Fabian Hemmert, a design researcher at the Berlin University of the Arts, is the mastermind behind the concept.
"Mobile phones use so little of our sensory abilities," he said. "They are great for information exchange — text, video and speech — but they provide no feeling of nearness."
Hemmert hopes to finally bridge that sensory gap by equipping phones with specialized sensors that can record a tactile action from a sender, and then transmit an appropriate sensation to the receiver via a motorized attachment.
So far there are three prototypes, and the kissing phone is easily the most intricate — and the most intimate — of the three. It comes equipped with a moisture sensor, which measures the wetness of the kiss, and a dampened sponge, which delivers the smooch.
There is also a grasping prototype, which transmits the sensation of a clasped hand, as well as a breathing prototype that can deliver a soft jet of air into the receiver's ear.
Here's a video presentation from Hemmert himself, along with depictions of the prototypes in use:
Early reviews of the phones sound like what you might expect from a first kiss: "creepy," "awkward," "disturbing" and "disgusting."
No doubt, owning a phone that can grasp, moisten and blow into your ear takes some getting used to. (Right now the prototypes probably make a more efficient delivery system for a wet willy than they do a passionate moment.) Hemmert, though, is hopeful the technology will eventually make telecommunication more intimate and realistic.
"It starts the discussion about how we actually want to communicate in the future," he said.