Scientists in Japan are working on a kissing machine that will effectively transmit the feeling of a kiss, but kissing experts aren't yet convinced that the device can measure up to the real thing.
The research is being done at Kajimoto Laboratory at the University of Electro-Communications with the ultimate goal of seeing if the tongue-tied test subjects can experience a kiss via machine.
The prototype pucker machine looks like a larger version of a kid's juice box with a straw-like apparatus sticking out of the side.
"If you take one device in your mouth and turn it with your tongue, the other device turns in the same way," researcher Nobuhiro Takahashi told diginfo.tv "If you turn it back the other way, then your partner's turns back the same way, so your partner's device turns whichever way your own device turns."
Takahashi says the tongue-twisting effect is achieved by motor rotations that are controlled by the user via computer.
"The turn angle information is sent reciprocally by both devices to maintain the same position," he said.
Since the position information values can also be recorded, Takahashi says the "kiss information" for different individuals can be freely replayed.
"For example, if you have a popular entertainer use this device and record it, that could be hugely popular if you offer it to fans," he said.
However, he admits there is still a lot of work to be done.
"The elements of a kiss include the sense of taste, the manner of breathing, and the moistness of the tongue," Takahashi said. "If we can recreate all of those I think it will be a really powerful device."
Maybe, but kissing experts like Andrea Demirjian won't even give lip service to the idea that smooching can be outsourced to machines.
Demirjian, author of "Kissing" (Penguin), says that while she applauds experiments in technology, she doesn't think this device will replace human lip locks any time soon.
"This device operates on a very narrow aspect of kissing -- the use of the tongue -- while ignoring, say, the hands or the neck," she told AOL Weird News. "No matter how advanced some things may get, kissing is one thing that can't be replaced by machines."
Although Demirjian thinks the kissing machine lacks sex appeal ("It looks like something out of a dental hygienist's office"), she does concede it could be fun to use the device to see what a famous celebrity's kiss is like.
"However, I pray to God that this isn't the future of kissing," she laughed.
Relationship coach Lauren Frances sees the need for people to become better kissers, but isn't sure this device is the way to do it.
"Many men are disqualified by the way they kiss, and many women complain that their partners aren't satisfying them in that way," she said. "This device is a mechanical version of something I suggest to women who want their men to kiss better. I tell them to say, 'See what I do and copy it.'"
But can the Japanese Kissing Machine take over this odious chore? Frances thinks not.
"I think the only place this might be popular is in prison or, maybe, space," she said. "It's like a sex toy. It can be instructional, but it lacks the excitement of a real person.
"Still, I'm for anything that can improve someone's self-esteem and make them a better partner," she added.
Reality TV star David Good, who was voted "Best Kisser" on the ABC series "Bachelor Pad" and is the author of "The Man Code: A Woman's Guide to Cracking the Tough Guy," thinks the stigma of French kissing a machine may be too much to bear.
"It would be funny to try it, but if I made out with a machine, I'd feel like a complete weirdo," he said. "I don't think you can replace the human touch with machines. Kissing is about passion."
Like many guys, Good is into gadgets and, in that respect, the concept makes sense -- but not as a replacement to human interaction.
"No way!" he said. "That'd be like masturbating with no lotion."
The Japanese Kissing Machine is still being developed, but there is at least one woman who can't wait to get her hands on the device.
Marni Kinrys is a professional "wing woman" who tells her male clients exactly what they are doing wrong when it comes to the opposite sex. As such, she sees the value in the device.
"I love this machine! Do you know how many sloppy, gross kisses I have received in my day?" she asked. "Any device that lets people practice something that they don't feel 100 percent confident in is genius in my opinion.
"As a woman, I don't care how the guy I'm making out with became a good kisser. I'm just thankful that he's not drooling over my face, probing my tongue like a frog or giving me a granny fish kiss."