NewsScience + Tech

Long Distance Couples Turn to Virtual Kissing Devices in China

Want to kiss your partner who is far away? A Chinese device featuring heated, movable silicon “lips” seems to have the solution.

Chinese social media users are buzzing over the gadget, which is marketed as a means to enable long-distance couples to have “genuine” physical intimacy. Users have responded with both interest and outrage.

The tool, which has pressure sensors and actuators, is said to be able to simulate the firmness, motion, and warmth of a real kiss.

It is able to communicate both the kissing movements and various sounds the user makes whilst using it.

Although many social media users found the gadget amusing, others denounced it as “vulgar” and “creepy.” Several people expressed worry that kids would purchase and use them.

One of the top comments on Weibo read, “I don’t understand (the device) but I’m utterly shocked”.

A number of hashtags related to the gadget have amassed hundreds of millions of views over the past week on the Twitter-like site.

Users must download a mobile app and insert the gadget into their phone’s charging port in order to smooch. Couples can begin a video conference and send copies of their kisses to one another after partnering with their partners via the app.

The Changzhou Vocational Institute of Mechatronic Technology is said to have patented the innovation, according to China’s official Global Times.

“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,” according to Jiang Zhongli, the principal designer, as quoted by the Global Times.

Jiang had submitted a patent application in 2019, but the patent expired in January 2023, so Jiang hopes someone else will improve and develop the idea.

The Imagineering Institute in Malaysia unveiled a comparable creation called the “Kissinger” in 2016. Yet instead of appearing like actual lips, it was a touch-sensitive silicon pad.

The Chinese gadget, although marketed for long-distance romances, also enables users to meet up with total strangers via the app’s “kissing square” feature. If two strangers find each other and click, they can initiate a kissing exchange.

On the app, users can also “upload” their kisses for other users to download and enjoy.

A host of customers who purchased the item for 288 yuan (THB 1,450) have posted evaluations of it on Taobao, the biggest online shopping platform in China.

“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 wrote.

“Thank you, technology!”