LAS VEGAS â Sometimes, you just need a damn hug.Â
Human interaction and affection is important, but when you’re physically away from your loved one, it’s impossible to receive the admiration and love you may desperately need. But thanks to this cute and cuddly stuffed animal called the Parihug, you’ll be able to send a hug to a friend anywhere in the world.
The connected plushes, which are actually a made-up animal optimized for hugging, are best used in pairs. So, when you hug one of them, it senses the duration and intensity of the hug and sends a message to your loved one’s Pari, which delivers a Â vibration ranging from gentle to intense to its owner. The stuffed animals can also be connected to an app via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so you can tell your loved one you’re thinking of them from anywhere. The app also enables you to choose from multiple Parihugs, so you can send a hug to all of your loved ones.
Additionally, Parihug can link up to your Fitbit, and you can send your loved one a replication of your heartbeat using haptic feedback. If you don’t have a Fitbit, you can still send your loved one a heartbeat that is based upon your age and gender.Â
Xyla Foxlin, Parihugs 20-year-old CEO and founder, tells Mashable that she dreamed up the idea while she was involved in a long distance relationship.
“I was in a long distance relationship for about a year-and-a-half. At some point I was having a rough time at my job and was really unhappy, but I had nothing to say to my boyfriend, Foxlin explained. “I didn’t want to text him or call him. I just wanted a way to reach out to know he was there. I started wondering if hugging over the internet was possible.”
After searching Google with no luck, Foxlin decided to put her engineering skills to work and created a way to send someone the sense of touch through the internet.Â
Foxlin was fortunate enough to have some funding from Case Western Reserve University during undergrad, so she went out and bought a bunch of boards and sensors, and decided to perform some surgery on a bunch of stuffed animals.Â
Parihug claims that this physical connection can release oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” unlike a Skype call, text message or a sexy Snapchat. While it’s unclear if the haptic feedback from the stuffed animal actually releases the hormone, a physical connection, even from a plush toy, can give you a warm feeling that your cold phone just cannot.Â
The Parihug is marketing its product for long distance couples, young kids, siblings split between separated parents or foster care, children separated from their parents, longterm hospital visits and children with down syndrome, but honestly, who couldn’t use a “hug” every so often.
“Physical touch is a really important part of child development and the way people bond together. A lot of that connection can’t be accomplished through audio and visual communication so what we’re trying to do is add touch back into the way we’re communicating over the internet because it makes it significantly more human and more emotional than a phone call or video call,” Foxlin explained.Â
Parihug plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign in the next three months with a target price of about $75 per stuffed animal.Â