There's nothing like a bear hug from a loved one at the end of a long day. But if you live far away from your family, you now have a man-made alternative. Scientists at MIT have created a vest that inflates when your Facebook friends "Like" your posts, mimicking the sensation of a hug.
Dubbed "Like-A-Hug," the puffy vest inflates so its wearer can "feel the warmth, encouragement, support or love that we feel when we receive hugs," according to designer Melissa Chow's website. To return the hug, the wearer wraps his or her arms around the shoulders to deflate the vest, symbolizing the act of sending the hug back.
This isn't the first time fashion designers have incorporated the virtual world of Facebook into their work. Earlier this year, Brazilian fashion retailer C&A used wooden hangers to display a digital live stream of the company's Facebook Likes.
The technology has even made it into home decor. In April, a Japanese robotics laboratory developed the Hugvie, a body-shaped pillow that connects to your mobile phone and mimics the caller's heartbeat using two vibrators. The strength of the vibrations adjusts according to the caller's pitch, volume and mood of the caller.
This type of technology makes the virtual world of social media tangible. Could it possibly be the direction in which Facebook and similar networks progress? Will we all be wearing Like-A-Hug vests in the future? While it's definitely a cool idea, it sure doesn't beat the real thing.