You Can Kiss in VR Games Now

Johnny Silverhand about to be kissed from the Johnny Silverhand romance mod for Cyberpunk 2077.
Catmino, CD Projekt Red

VR is the latest step to make games more realistic than ever, but the biggest thing that’s still missing is a sense of touch. To overcome this, some companies have built vests with tiny motors in them to simulate the feeling of being touched on the shoulder or stomach; others have built gloves that let you pick up objects in-game by closing your fist around the empty air in real life. But what about kissing?

There’s lots of kissing in games, but there’s no way to actually feel your in-game makeout sessions. Until now. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Future Interfaces Group have modified a Quest 2 VR headset to recreate the feeling of someone’s lips on yours.

“We use this hardware to focus air-borne acoustic energy onto the lips and into the mouth, creating sensations such as taps and continuous vibrations,” they say on their website. “In addition to the lips, our effects can be felt on the teeth and tongue. When coupled with coordinated graphical feedback, the effects are convincing, boosting realism and immersion.”

Thankfully, that’s not the only thing their modified headset can do. It can simulate all kinds of physical touches on your face, like raindrops and walking through a spider web. It would no doubt be cool to feel the rain on your face as you walk through Night City, for instance, but I personally think it’s okay when games are a little unrealistic if that means I don’t have to touch a spider.

There’s also the possibility that this technology could be used to put people in uncomfortable situations. Feeling like you’re being kissed by someone you don’t want to kiss wouldn’t be a welcome experience. But scenarios like that are still a long way away, and hopefully by then developers will have come up with ways to protect users.

The kissing VR headset is still very much a working prototype at the moment, but the researchers say their device can theoretically be built into future VR headsets. So who knows, there might be a lot more kissing in our games in the future.

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