A long-distance kissing machine has been invented by a Chinese start-up inspired by lockdown isolation.
The machine transmits kiss data collected by motion sensors hidden in silicon lips, which move simultaneously when replaying received kisses.
According to Beijing’s Siweifushe, the 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.
Users can even download kissing data submitted by other users via an accompanying app.
The concept arose from China’s frequent, lengthy, and widespread lockdown measures during the three-year COVID-19 pandemic, which saw authorities forbid residents from leaving 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.
He was a graduate student at the Beijing Film Academy at the time, and his graduate project focused on the lack of physical intimacy in video calls. He later founded Siweifushe, which launched MUA, its first product, on January 22 for around 260 yuan ($38).
He claims that in the two weeks following its release, the company sold over 3,000 kissing machines and received over 20,000 orders.
The MUA is designed to look like a mobile stand, with realistic pursed lips protruding from the front.
To use it, lovers must first download an app onto their smartphones and pair their kissing machines, which must be plugged into the phone’s charging port.
They use the app to activate the device, and when they kiss it, it kisses them back.
However, the device is available in a variety of colours, including unisex lips.
It has received mixed reviews, with some users finding it intriguing while others finding it unsettling. One of the most common complaints was that it lacked a tongue.
Some Weibo commentators were also concerned that the device could be used for online erotic content, which is strictly prohibited in China.
Zhao stated that his company abides by regulations, but that “there is little we can do about how people use the device.”
MUA is not the first remote kissing device on the market.
In 2011, researchers at Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications created a “kiss transmission machine,” and in 2016, Malaysia’s Imagineering Institute created a similar device called the “Kissinger.”