Social Media Vest Translates Likes Into Hugs
Okay, this is just bizarre: if getting a “like” on Facebook doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy enough, how about an inflatable vest that gives you a “hug” every time you get the stamp of social media approval?
Yes, it’s a real thing, or rather will be soon, thanks to MIT researchers Andy Payne and Phil Seaton and artist Melissa Kit Chow. While it’s unclear if the “Like-A-Hug” vest will ever go to commercial production, Chow describes the concept thusly: “Like-A-Hug is a wearable social media vest that allows for hugs to be given via Facebook, bringing us closer despite physical distance. The vest inflates when friends ‘Like’ a photo, video, or status update on the wearer's wall, thereby allowing us to feel the warmth, encouragement, support, or love that we feel when we receive hugs. Hugs can also be sent back to the original sender by squeezing the vest and deflating it.”
According to Chow, “The project was done as an exercise and exploration in shape display. We came up with the concept over a casual conversation about long-distance relationships and the limitations of video chat interfaces like Skype. The concept of telepresence arose, and we toyed with the idea of receiving hugs via wireless technology. The result was Like-A-Hug.”
While social media wasn’t actually integral to the original concept, it definitely gives it that extra push to go from “weird” to “really weird.” Chow notes: “Connecting it to Facebook conceptually was simply a way to explore how social media might push past the traditional graphic user interface (GUI).” Which is putting it mildly.