There’s something innately satisfying about getting your photos and status updates “liked” on Facebook, but it’s nothing like getting a real hug. Melissa Kit Chow, a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, wanted to convert these likes into a real-time show of support, no matter where you are. So she designed Like-A-Hug, social media vest that inflates any time someone likes something of yours on Facebook. Like a hug, the vest gives you a squeeze to let you know you’re loved and supported no matter where you are.
Melissa Kit Chow unveiled Like-A-Hug, her new wearable social media device recently, which lets users physically feel when their friends “like” what they do. Chow worked with Andy Payne and Phil Seaton in the MIT Media Lab to create the puffy vests, which inflates when someone likes something you do on Facebook. The wearer is feels a soft squeeze and can check to see who gave them a hug. If the “liker” is also wearing a vest, the “likee” can return a hug by squeezing the vest and both people can feel the love.
The idea emerged after a casual conversation about long distance relationships and how social networking and video chatting still can’t fulfill the physical needs. Chow and her friends came up with the concept of ‘telepresence’, and they toyed around with the idea of receiving hugs via wireless technology. Using Facebook was a natural fit and could easily be incorporated into the vest’s interface. Like-A-Hug thus works to bring people closer together physically with the help of social media. Plus if it’s really cold outside, the inflatable vest will act as extra insulation. Like away!