Japanese scientists have developed a kissing simulator and a hugging simulator designed for long-distance lovers and lonely people respectively.
The kissing simulator is still pretty basic, consisting of a rather gruesome tongue-like protuberance; when one member of a couple wiggles their device, the other moves correspondingly.
But the team, from the Kajimoto Laboratory at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo has the best intentions: "We focus on kisses, since kisses are haptic communications on the mouths that can express deep emotion," they say.
"We considered that if we mutually present the haptic sensation to each mouth, we can convey the expression of emotion, deepen their relationship."
But what if you don't have anybody prepared to wiggle a bit of plastic with their tongue for you? Well, the boffins have an answer for that too. They've created a device called the Sense-Roid, which makes it possible to give yourself a hug.
"The system is composed of a lay figure with tactile sensors to detect the user's caressing motion, and a tactile jacket with vibrators and artificial muscles to reflect the caressing motion to the user. As a result, users caress themselves through our Sense-Roid," say the developers.
"We believe that this self-caressing experience will enlighten people about the value of caressing."