“Plug in to your phone and give your loved ones a kiss over the Internet.”
A gadget has been created to bring long-distance lovers even closer together – The Kissenger.
Created by Imagineering Lab, City University London, the attachment fits onto your smartphone and has a plastic pad that each user locks lips wth. The device then transmits the sensation to a paired holster with an identical pad.
“Kissing is the most direct and universal expression of intimacy and affection,” explained Emma Yann Zhang, who worked on the prototype. “It’s a way for us to bond and maintain intimacy in our relationships.” Zhang gave the presentation to an audience at the Love and Sex with Robots congress as Goldsmiths, University of London.
“Also, it’s stress reducing; when we engage in this kind of intimate physical touch, we have a lower level of blood pressure.”
The device’s Pressure sensors and actuators record and transmit your kiss to the receiving device, replicating the kiss to the recipient through an app. The app also features videocalling.
Whilst the device can accurately recreate the sensation of a quick kiss, long-distance makeout sessions are off the cards. The pad itself isn’t mouth-shaped and there is no simulation for a tongue.
Behind the creation of the device are David Cheok, Emma Yann Zhang, Yukihiro Morisawa nad Shogo Nishiguchi.
The creators also add that the device extends beyond a purely sexual function. “Parents can also use Kissenger to give their children a kiss on the cheek when they are away at work,” say its creators.
Zhang added that the next stage of the Kissenger will be to incorporate scent so you can experience the smell of the recipient of your smartphone enabled kiss.
Professor Adrian David Cheok gave a talk in Kuala Lumpur to Digi Telecommunications on their annual innovation day event.
Adrian David Cheok is Director of the Imagineering Institute, Malaysia, and Chair Professor of Pervasive Computing at City University London.
He is the Founder and Director of the Mixed Reality Lab, Singapore. His research focuses on multi-sensory internet communication, mixed reality, pervasive and ubiquitous computing, human-computer interfaces, and wearable computing. Today he talks about how the internet connects us and what we can do by blending reality, our senses, and the internet.
Each year, the University of Adelaide recognises the achievements of its most outstanding alumni at the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony. Awards include; Distinguished Alumni Award, James McWha Award of Excellence, Honours Alumni University Medal, Postgraduate Alumni and the University Medal and Alumni Fellows.
Adrian is a pioneer in mixed reality and multisensory communication; his innovation and leadership has been recognised internationally through multiple awards.
Some of his pioneering works in mixed reality include innovative and interactive games such as ‘3dlive’, ‘Human Pacman’ and ‘Huggy Pajama’. He is also the inventor of the world’s first electric and thermal taste machine, which produces virtual tastes with electric current and thermal energy.
Adrian Cheok is a 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient in recognition of his achievements and contribution in the field of computing, engineering and multisensory communication.
Virtual, mixed, and augmented reality all provide different but compellingly immersive experiences that draw us in through sight and sound. But what about our other senses? A few strange inventions are already exploring the possibilities.
Adrian Cheok, professor of pervasive computing at City University London and the director of Singapore’s Mixed Reality Labs, decided to figure out the best ways to connect our other senses to digital environments. That definitely includes smell and taste, along with touch, and those sensations can be a bit more difficult to “render” with technology.
Previous attempts at recreating smell and taste required chemical emissions to provide those sensations, but that method was never practical and ultimately failed (see: Smell-O-Vision). Instead, Cheok wants to avoid creating stimuli and just manipulate your brain, as he explained in an interview with Motherboard:
We want to transmit smells without using any chemical, so what we’re going to do is use magnetic coils to stimulate the olfactory bulb part of the brain associated with smell. At first, our plan was to insert them through the skull, but unfortunately the olfactory part of the brain is at the bottom, and doing deep-brain stimulation is very difficult.
While that might sound a little scary, the actual technology Cheok created is a little less invasive. Still, most people will likely find his current method at least a little off-putting:
Not much—magnetic fields are very safe. Anyway, our present idea is to place the coils at the back of your mouth. There is a bone there called the palatine bone, which is very close to the region of your brain that makes you perceive smells and tastes. In that way we’ll be able to make you feel them just by means of magnetic actuation.
Nevertheless, this approach points to some very interesting possibilities down the line. Because virtual worlds mostly exist for our entertainment, we easily forget that immersive headsets can subtly hack our brains. As sense-manipulating technology evolves, it will become possible to completely alter a person’s perception of reality.
That prospect is both incredible and somewhat disturbing. Cheok wants to create digital restaurant menus that let us smell each dish through our smartphones, software that makes us feel like we’re cuddling with our significant when they’re thousands of miles away, and even applications that can improve moods through target smells and tastes. Transmitting scent and tactile feeling has obvious applications in the virtual sex/pornography industry as well.
Thanks to the fine line our brains draw between the sensation of touch and pain, there may also immense benefits in the health industry—particularly when it comes to the horribly inadequate methods of pain management we currently utilize. We’re already seeing progress in this specific case with VR headsets alone.
Unfortunately, all this potential could lead to malicious uses down the line. While no technology can ever avoid that problem entirely, when it comes to literally hacking a person’s brain a lot of care will be necessary to keep users safe. It’s too early to tell if we’ll see Cheok’s inventions evolve and proliferate in consumer markets, but it won’t matter much. The methods for manipulating our senses already exist. How we use them will ultimately determine whether they’ll benefit society or pose a serious threat. If history is any indication, it’ll likely be a mix of both.