You could well argue that the great thing about phones is that they generally prevent the person you’re talking to from lapping at your face during a conversation, but design researcher Fabian Hemmert wants to bring some of that tactile feedback into the modern cellphone. Speaking at TEDxBerlin, Hemmert showed three prototype phones that could variously recreate the feel of breathing on your neck, the squeeze of a hand, and even the wetness of a sloppy kiss.
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The grasping, kissing and whispering prototypes are intended to explore how real-world sensations can make communications more emotional. The grasping phone pulls in a handstrap during conversations, while the whispering phone blows a small amount of air onto your neck or ear. Finally, the kissing phone has a damp sponge inside, which is jabbed at your cheek when the caller kisses their handset.
The project is a follow-up to Hemmert’s previous work on weight-shifting cellphones, and while none of these prototypes is really suitable for a production model, it’s another interesting approach to haptics beyond the insipid buzz of a silent call. Saying that, though, we can’t really imagine wanting a fluid exchange with most of the people in our address book.