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Remotely kiss a cow, kiss a bunny, kiss your loneliness goodbye

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A team of robot reseachers have developed a prototype of internet-based remote kissing devices that – for reasons unexplained – comes in two versions, one a cartoonish bunny, the other a cow.

The bunny, well, The Reg can accept, seeing as how a juvenile oryctolagus cuniculus domesticus might be some folks' idea of kissable cuteness. The cow, however, leaves us a wee bit befuddled.

To Hooman Aghaebrahimi Samani of the National University of Singapore's Social Robotics Lab, working in collaboration with the Japan's Keio University, the cow is apparently quite suitable for the male half of his long-distance osculation simulator, dubbed Kissenger.

Do note that his device's name is a portmanteau of "kissing" and "messenger", and not a direct reference to Kissinger, Henry A. – although that worthy was reputed to have been quite the ladies man, and was quoted to have noted that "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac."

The Reg, by the way, has covered boffinary attempts to simulate lip-lock langor before, and we hasten to admit that Samani's attempt – the bunny half, at least – is a more palatable prototype than the straw-in-mouth "kiss-like remote mouth communication device for close relationships" developed at Tokyo's University of Electro-Communications.

Kissenger's mode d'emploi is simplicity itself: one user simply kisses the device's oddly oversized lip-like receiver while the other user holds the same said soft slab next to his or her lips – or cheek, or, we assume, any other part of one's anatomy. Sensors transmit the deformation made by the sender's lips wirelessly through the interwebs, and the smootch is consummated.

As explained in a concept video on Samani's website, one crying need for such long-distance loving is that "Our busy lifestyles often restrict us from kissing our loved ones."

But reaching out and kissing someone is not the only use for Samani's self-described "lip interaction system". He also envisions future human-to-robot kissing that "enables an intimate relationship with a robot," and human-to-virtual-character kissing, which could certainly enliven Second Life interactions.

Perhaps most futuristically, Samani also foresees his technology enabling robot-to-robot canoodling, "allowing robots to take new identities in the future." ®

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