If you see a bunch of people making out with their cell phones on your morning commute in the near future, don't panic. A series of new phone prototypes has just been shown at the Mobile HCI conference in Stockholm, Sweden that will make whispering sweet nothings to your beloved (or panting to your boss mid-run that you're going to be a few minutes late to work) feel a lot more intimate (or weird).
The "emotional phone", developed by German design researcher Fabian Hennert, can simulate heavy breathing, hand-holding, and… kissing. And apparently this thing can work far more wonders than just a peck on the cheek. It comes complete with a moisture sensor (for the kisser) and a motorized wet-sponge membrane (for the kissee). Frenching over the phone may be in our future!
Or not. Perhaps to calm the clearly aghast crowd to whom Hennert introduced his phone at a TEDxBerlin conference last year, he finished with a disclaimer:
"These are prototypes, they are experiments, they are ideas… And what they do is, they help us to experience a future vision of what telecommunication could be like in the future. We make that experienceable today. We have to build them actually physically to experience that future vision. And in playing with it, you get the question that arises: Do we want that?"
While the dramatic questions at the end of his presentation may make you tilt your head and contemplate The Future Of Intimacy, I think that the answer is probably "No, we don't want that." Even Hemmert's colleagues called the phones "creepy," "awkward," "disturbing," and "disgusting" when they tested them out. Not that we twenty-first-century folk aren't creepy and disturbing — we're just probably not in a hurry to advance from anonymous-Facebook-stalking creepiness to something more physical (read: moist) anytime soon.