CuteCircuit + The Hug Shirt
The Hug Shirt™ is a shirt that makes people send hugs over distance! Embedded in the shirt there are sensors that feel the strength of the touch, the skin warmth and the heartbeat rate of the sender and actuators that recreate the sensation of touch, warmth and emotion of the hug to the shirt of the distant loved one.
The Hug Shirt™ has been nominated as one of the best Inventions of 2006 by Time Magazine!
Here is a sneak preview of the new Hug Shirt™ that was presented at Wired NextFest in New York last month. Stay tuned on this page for a complete update and new images later this week!
How does it work?
The Hug Shirt™ is a Bluetooth accessory for Java enabled mobile phones. Hug Shirt™s don’t have any assigned phone number, all the data goes from the sensors Bluetooth to your mobile phone and your mobile phone delivers the hug data to your friend’s phone and it is seamlessly transmitted Bluetooth to his or her shirt!
Sending hugs is as easy as sending an SMS and you will be able to send hugs while you are on the move, in the same way and to the same places you are able to make phone calls (Rome to Tokyo, New York to Paris).
The system is very simple: a Hug Shirt™ (Bluetooth with sensors and actuators), a Bluetooth java enabled mobile phone with the HugMe™ java software running (it understands what the sensors are communicating), and on the other side another phone and another shirt. If you do not have a Hug Shirt™ but know that your friend has one you can still send them a hug creating it with the HugMe™ software and it will be delivered to your friend’s Hug Shirt™!
The Hug Shirt™ can be washed. The smart technology pads (containing sensors and actuators), placed under each red area that you see in the picture, can be removed for washing and placed back in afterwards. The Hug pads are plug and play, so that you don’t need to be an expert to place them and make it work! The Hug Shirt™s are available in many colors, so that you can move the smart pads from shirt to shirt and remain fashionable.
When touching the red areas on your Hug Shirt™ your mobile phone receives the sensors data via Bluetooth (hug pressure, skin temperature, heartbeat rate, time you are hugging for, etc) and then delivers it to the other person.
The hugs shirt is Bluetooth and works with mobile phones on any bandwidth (900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz and so on). Runs on rechargeable batteries. The Hug Shirt™ is built using RoHS components, it means that the Hug Shirt™ is lead-free and non-toxic.
Here below is an image of the Hug Shirt™, presented at SIGGraph in 2005. Images of the new Hug Shirt™ presented at Wired NextFest 2006 and as featured on Time Magazine will be available here soon!
Why the Hug Shirt™?
The Hug Shirt™ is not meant to replace human contact, but to make you happy if you are away for business or other reasons and you miss your friends and loved ones! It also has some very interesting applications in the medical field with the elderly and children. And is fun to use and very soft!
Interfaces and systems must be intuitive, natural, and compatible with our emotional status. Combining emotion and technology should be part of every design process. An increasing mobility of humans throughout the globe, due to business or study reasons, has brought family members to spend most of their time apart from each other. Humans need physical contact with each other. Technology should allow for a pleasant Human-Human Interaction.
Adults, especially elderly people living far away from their families, deprived of tactile contact for a long period of time will tell you just how depressing it feels. A hug, a handshake, a pat on the back, and a kiss are all very important and bring us close to others. People need to be touched at least 70 times a day! Start noticing how many times you shake hands or hug a friend, and you will see that it really makes you feel good, and if you didn’t get enough hugs give us a call and come visit!
Users designed it too!
We involved users in participatory design sessions from the early stage of the design process. This technique allows for faster refining of concepts and prototypes and gives the possibility to bring desirable products to market in a shorter time and with better results.
We also developed a taxonomy of hugs! Hugs come from people that take care of us: mothers, sisters, fathers, grandparents, friends. A hug makes us perceive the tangible presence of the other person, the closeness contributes a sensation of warmth and relaxed harmony. During the hug positive natural chemicals get released within our body, our blood pressure regularizes, and stress soothes. Rhythmic hugs to let a child fall asleep produce soft vibrations that resonate and calm.
Additional bodystorming (people hugging for a long time sessions were done at every stage of the design process. Users tried various kinds of textiles and materials such as sponges, balloons and the likes, wearing them on their body, inside their clothes or outside existing ones. During the hugging sessions we mapped the position of people hands on the others body. Major intensity points were identified on upper arms, on the upper back part of the torso, around the waistline, neck, shoulders, and hips. In these strategic spots, now the red areas, we placed our soft technological pads containing the hugging output actuators.