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Give Us a Remote Hug! The Evolution of Virtual Cuddling and What to Expect in the Future

Emerging technologies let loved ones feel long-distance embraces.

What with the recent developments in everything from teledildonics to sending virtual kisses, or even digital oral sex, it’s reassuring to know that researchers continue to strive for ways for people to share the most touching of touches—a hug—across the Internet.

A brief history of remote hugging

In the last few years we’ve seen the development of the Teslasuit. The prototype allows wearers to experience a wide range of tactile experiences, including an embrace, via a network of electromagnetic nodes.

Then there’s the Hugvie: kind of interactive body-pillow, this creation from the Intelligence Robotics and Communications Laboratory in Japan provides a shared haptic experience between users. While the Hugvie doesn’t actually hug, it does create a simulation of a heartbeat based on the pitch and timbre of the sender. For those interested, a Hugvie runs for about $171 a unit.

Similar in design is the Parihug, which looks g more similar to a plush animal than a body pillow. But like the Hugvie, it can also record a hug and subsequently transmit a soothing vibration to its counterpart through an Internet-connected teddy bear.

Way back in 2012, there was the development of a much more literal form of embracing technology. Created by Cute Circuit—made up of Ryan Genz and Francesca Rosella—one HugShirt reads a wearer’s touch intensity, warmth, and heart rate and then transmits them to a receiver also wearing a HugShirt, via Bluetooth-enabled smartphones.

And if you aren’t wearing a HugShirt and want to send a hug to someone who is, you can send a digital hug with a special text message or even during a chat session.

What’s going on now with hugs?

Things have considerably picked up in the field of long-distance hugs, with some truly fascinating emergent projects and technologies.

Inspired by the need for some people on the autism spectrum to feel an embrace, but without the direct simulation of human contact, the T-Jacket is a garment that applies pressure to the wearer, with duration and degree being controlled by a smartphone app.

The benefits of this kind of contact are perfectly stated on the T-Jacket site: “Deep touch pressure can help improve the quality of life for people who face constant stress and anxiety.”

The T-Jacket and its mission bring up an important factor in the ongoing developments of virtual hugging systems, one of basic human needs. For those interested in sexual technology—and we know you are because why else would you be there—these technologies are sometimes thought of as peripherals. That they are a nice add-on to the already mentioned teledildonics mechanisms.

Sometimes all we need is a hug

Hugs have been proven, time and again, to be not just pleasant but tremendously beneficial to health and emotional wellbeing. So the true value of such products may not be immediately sexual but rather offer a possible solution to those who are depressed, feeling anxious, or just crave physical contact.

And perhaps someday soon when anyone wants a warm and tender embrace, they could have some inspired options and get the hug they earnestly need and absolutely deserve.

Image sources: ikiamo

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