Thursday, May 5, 2011

Darling, Now We Can Machine-Kiss Over the Internet!


Your sweetheart is on the other side of the world and you can't touch. But thanks to the Kajimoto Laboratory in Japan, now you can pseudo-French kiss over the Internet. A straw-like component transmits tongue motion to a second device, and you can even record it for, um, more kisses later. A celebrity could even use the device to "kiss" fans.

To the list of possible functions for the future Internet, it's time to add kissing. A Japanese lab has created a machine Relevant Products/Services that can transmit a pseudo-French kiss.

The Kajimoto Laboratory at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo has announced that it has developed a device Relevant Products/Services that uses a straw-like component to convey tongue motion to a lucky recipient with the same device on the other end. Tongue motion can also be recorded, assumedly so the other person can relive the event whenever.

'Communications Within the Mouth'

Turning the straw-like element one way or the other at a given speed, this tactile telecommunication is sent to the other device. Turn-angle information is relayed to both machines to keep the straw element in the same position.

According to the lab, the device is intended for "communications Relevant Products/Services within the mouth -- in other words, to obtain the feeling of kissing."

In a video Relevant Products/Services posted on web sites that demonstrates the paired devices, the demonstrator doesn't actually engage with a live recipient on the other end. The transmission is demonstrated locally in the lab to another machine, which displays the same rotating straw activity. The idea is that another person could be there, and it could be on the other side of the world -- but, to date, there's no demonstrated evidence that a recipient would actually, you know, enjoy the occasion.

Of course, there are those kissers who will doubt that this age-old gesture of pleasure and affection could be replicated by a mere straw rotating on a motor. Additionally, the box containing the motor and controller to which the straw is attached seems like an improbable choice for lovers' bedside tables.

But the researchers suggest this is only the beginning. Nobuhiru Takahashi, a lab researcher, noted that a "kiss transmission device" could be developed that included -- and transmitted -- breathing, moistness of a tongue, and even taste.

Keeping in Contact with Fans

Already, the researchers are thinking about commercial possibilities, although it might be best for the world if they concentrated on their day jobs. For instance, one of the engineers told news media that the device could be used by a celebrity to maintain -- shall we say -- contact with his or her fans.

"If you have a popular entertainer use this device and record it, that could be hugely popular if you offer it to fans," a lab researcher said.

Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis who focuses on social networking, noted that this sorta-kiss transmitter is in line with a series of physical-sensation transmission devices that have been emerging over the years.

He pointed out that Japan, in particular, seems to be a "unique culture" in that it has "an affinity for replacing humans with machines, with a high tolerance for machine-based surrogates." As an example, he pointed to robotic toys in that country that have been designed to keep elderly people company.

Assuming that kiss machines evolve beyond a rotating straw, Shimmin said he doubts physical transmission will ever become a large, viable industry. But, he predicted, there could be a niche of users, including lovers on opposite sides of the globe, for whom the future could be, in the words of singer/songwriter Bono, "even better than the real thing."

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