Chinese startup invents kissing machine that lets you smooch your long-distance loved one – Screen Shot
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Chinese startup invents kissing machine that lets you smooch your long-distance loved one

You’ve probably already heard of the rings, lamps, and pillows that light up or vibrate when one half of a long-distance relationship wants to show the other that they’re thinking about them, missing them or you know, in the mood for some extra kinky phone sex.

Now, there’s an even more intimate long-distance tech gadget on the market, one that’s sure to raise some eyebrows. Introducing MUA, a long-distance kissing machine that transmits users’ smooch data collected through motion sensors hidden in silicon lips, which simultaneously move when replaying kisses received. Hot stuff

Named after the sound people make when blowing a kiss, the dystopian machine invented by the Chinese startup Siweifushe can also capture and replay sounds as well as warm up slightly during kissing sessions in order to make the experience that bit more authentic.

Imagined during one of the country’s strict COVID-19 lockdowns, which at some point saw residents unable to leave their home for months on end, the device also allows users to download kissing data submitted via an accompanying app by other users—because whether you are in a long-distance relationship or single as a Pringle, MUA does not discriminate.

“I was in a relationship back then, but I couldn’t meet my girlfriend due to lockdowns,” inventor Zhao Jianbo told The Guardian.

Being a student at the Beijing Film Academy at the time, he focused his graduate project on the lack of physical intimacy in video calls. He later went on to set up Siweifushe which released MUA on 22 January 2023. The kissing device is priced at 260 yuan (£31, $38).

In the two weeks after its release, the company sold an astonishing 3,000 kissing machines and received approximately 20,000 orders, the inventor stated.

Resembling a mobile stand with colourless pursed lips protruding from the front, MUA currently comes in several colours with the same unisex lips. To use it, users must download an app onto their smartphones and pair their kissing machines. Long story short, when they kiss the device, it kisses them back.

According to reviews on the Chinese online shopping platform Taobao, some customers seem pleased with the machine—with one user comparing it to “a warm pacifier”—while others were quick to point out how uncomfortable it made them feel.

“It doesn’t feel like a real kiss,” wrote one individual. Among the top complaints was its lack of tongue, which doesn’t feel like something that requires further explanation.

Another user, who revealed to be in a long-distance relationship, wrote: “In the past […] I could see her but I couldn’t touch her, but now there is a product that helps us to realise the kiss.” And honestly, no matter how uneasy this pair of perky but slightly childish-looking lips make most of us feel, if it can help people feel less alone, then why not?

As a final note for all the twisted and perverted out there, Zhao added that although his company complies with regulations, “there’s little we can do as for how people use the device,” if you know what I mean.

You can now protect your sexual privacy with a range of condoms dedicated to your Alexa

In 2019, an investigation led by The Sun revealed that the sounds of lovemaking could trigger Alexa-activated Echo speakers—in turn recording their steamy seshes for the staff at Amazon to collect and analyse as a metric of “improving customer experience.” To safeguard and banish these worries from bedrooms, folks over at CamSoda have come up with a range of ‘privacy condoms’ for your Alexa.

What is the Virtual Assistant Blocker?

“The rise of AI-powered virtual assistants poses a threat to our privacy,” said Daryn Parker, Vice President of CamSoda in a blog post. “There has been a growing concern that there are people on the other end of our Alexas, recording our conversations and listening in to them.” Given the mutual interests of its userbase in both sex and technology, along with a history of gimmicky sex tech inventions, the adult entertainment company has come up with the inevitable.

“Here at CamSoda, we value the privacy of our users and want to better protect them from prying eyes and ears—especially while they are having sex,” Parker continued. “With the rollout of our new condom line for Alexa-activated Echo speakers, people can ‘wrap it up’ in more ways than one and rest assured that no one is listening in on their lovemaking.”

You can now protect your sexual privacy with a range of condoms dedicated to your Alexa

Dubbed the ‘Virtual Assistant Blocker’ (VAB), CamSoda’s invention works by covering all seven microphone array rings on the surface of the Alexa. Temporarily muting communications between users and their virtual assistant, the product guarantees privacy and discretion.

Retailing for $9.99, the invention sports Noise Reduction Rated (NRR) 35 soundproofing material. “The NRR 34 is basically stuffing the highest-rated earplugs inside the highest-rated earmuffs,” explained Forbes. Rimmed with silicon for a snug fit, you can even get your hands on a ‘CamSoda Blue’ and ‘Graphite Grey’ version if you’re lucky.

Tales from a virtual investigation

Now that we know how it works, it’s time to ask the real question: does it work? On a virtual quest to find out, I arrived at the internet’s favourite hotspot for sex tech and advices—Reddit. The responses to my inquiry were mixed. On closer inspection, however, they can be categorised into three: the ‘Faraday cage-rs’ swearing by the product, the ‘why on earth-ers’ labelling the invention a “bad April Fool’s joke” and the ‘humourous overthinkers’ relating VAB to all walks of life.

“VAB is a thoughtful invention for those cases where I want my privacy but also want to play music,” one user replied, highlighting how the product covers only the microphones but not the speakers. While some admitted seeing themselves use “yet another glove in the bedroom,” these claims were refuted by others—who believe that the product could just be replaced with the practice of switching off their virtual assistants altogether.

A minority of users on the scene, however, admitted to currently using a smart plug to power their Alexa. “A smart plug will cut power to your Alexa in a stipulated time. Although you need to use your phone or an Alexa in a different room to turn it back on, it’s better than manually unplugging it,” a reply read. While the ‘stipulated time’ stirred a separate controversy on its own in this scenario, I couldn’t help but notice a niche of users agreeing on how they find the red glow of the mute button sexy. Another pondered over the repercussions of inviting a girlfriend named ‘Alexa’ over. “Imagine if she wanted me to say her name,” a user added.

The role of mistrust and dependency

The regularity of accidental triggers on Alexa are incredibly high,” an anonymous analyst said to The Guardian. Accompanied by private data like a user’s location and contact details, the analyst highlighted how Alexa’s terms of use actually lets Amazon staff snoop into a user’s recordings. “Amazon told us that everyone we were listening to had consented to it too. So I never felt like I was spying,” the analyst added.

With Amazon’s employees reportedly listening to more than 1,000 recordings a day in order to “improve customer experience,” it makes one wonder about the dependency and mistrust bred by virtual assistants in our lives. While opinions varied, all Redditors seemed to agree to this one single fact—thereby advising others to take digital breaks or relocate such devices altogether into ‘miscellaneous’ corners of their houses.

So, if you are someone dependent on your Alexa but also value your sexual privacy at the same time—you might as well try putting a ring on it next to the poster which reads ‘No Glovin’, No Lovin’!’