COVID-19 lockdowns in China didn’t just mess up iPhone production, they inspired the invention of a bizarre new machine with fake lips you can use with your smartphone to “kiss” someone far away.
Chinese startup Siweifushe launched the MUA — named after kissing sounds — a couple of weeks ago, selling more than 3,000 of them and receiving orders for 20,000 more, a new report said.
Yikes: Meet the MUA long-distance kissing machine
How do you use MUA? You hold the device to your lips for a kiss while on a call with your beloved, who uses their own device as well as the app needed for “kissing data.” A slot on top of the device, just above those rubber lips, holds the phone running the app.
The device “transmits users’ kiss data collected through motion sensors hidden in silicon lips, makes sounds and warms up slightly when kissed,” according to a report by Reuters/The Guardian.
That’s sure to creep some people out, yet others seem to be into it. It’s selling, after all.
“Finding that people are buying that horrifying monstrosity reduces some of my faith in humanity,” said Cult of Mac writer Ed Hardy. “Excuse me while I go sit in a dark room and shiver.”
But … why?
The idea for a realistic kissing machine came about during a COVID-19 lockdown. In some of China’s lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the virus, people were forbidden to leave their homes for months. In one of those, inventor Zhao Jianbo came up with the idea for the device.
“I was in a relationship back then, but I couldn’t meet my girlfriend due to lockdowns,” Jianbo said.
As a student at Beijing Film Academy at the time, he worked on a graduate project about video calls’ lack of physical intimacy. Later came the launch of Siweifushe, followed by the release of its initial product, MUA, on January 22.
The device sells for 260Yuan, or $38. You can choose from several colors, but they all come with the same colorless lips. But searches online turned up no site selling the MUA. It may only be available in China for now.
Mixed reviews so far
The report said reviews of the device so far are mixed. Some buyers said they find the lips intriguing and fun while others mentioned feeling uncomfortable with the product.
“Among the top complaints was its lack of tongue,” the report said. Make of that what you will.
Some people on social media expressed “concern that the device could be used for online erotic content.” China strictly regulates that.
“There’s little we can do as for how people use the device,” Zhao said, noting his company complies with regulations.
Not the first kissing machine
Whether you find the new kissing machine intriguing or repulsive, it’s not the first of its kind. And others cited in the article came from Asia, as well:
MUA is not the first remote kissing device. Researchers at Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications invented a “kiss transmission machine” in 2011, and Malaysia’s Imagineering Institute made a similar gadget called the [Kissenger] in 2016.