MIT designers have developed a vest that hugs you when you get a "Like" on Facebook. According to the designers, the Like-A-Hug is a "wearable social media" that allows you to "feel the warmth, support, or love that we feel when we receive hugs."
PC Mag reports that Melissa Kit Chow, a graduate of Harvard School of Design, working with Andy Payne and Phil Seaton at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, built the inflatable black vest.
The wearer receiving the hug can send it back by squeezing and deflating the vest. According to Chow on her personal website, Like-A-Hug allows for "hugs to be given via Facebook, bringing us closer despite physical distance."
CNET speculates on what a "Like-A-Hug" hug would probably feel like: "I expect it feels less like a boa constrictor and more like a gentle squeeze, though," but gives a warning to those who are claustrophobic: "You [may] want to pass on this invention."
Melissa Kit Chow
Digital Trends reports that Chow's is not the first design for artificial contact in virtual space. Hiroshi Ishiguro, in April, introduced a body pillow that adds some physical sensations to phone calls. According to Digital Trends, the "Hugvie" user "slips their smartphone into a pocket on the body pillow and vibrators inside the Hugvie simulate a heartbeat based on the tone and volume of the person on the other phone."
Yahoo! speculates on what happens to celebrities like George Takei, who get hundreds or even thousands of "Likes" every day...suffocation?
Jezebel expresses disapproval of the idea of substituting real human contact with an impersonal "virtual hug," with an advise to Chow, "Put all that brainpower towards devising a 3D printer that spits out breakfast sandwiches or something."
PC Mag says Chow has not provided pricing or ordering information for the vest.