CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Being apart from your loved ones can be tough. Couples who may not live in the same city and parents who have to be apart from each other and their kids have always looked for a way to stay emotionally connected.
A phone call or a text message is one thing, but stepping into that emotional void is another. A local startup, Parihug, which is the creation of Case Western Reserve student Xyla Foxlin.
One day, Foxlin realized she needed a hug, but she was 1,300 miles away from her boyfriend. "I didn't want to call or text or hear about his day, I just wanted a hug, this validation that someone was there for me."
Foxlin, a mechanical engineering student went to work. The result was a cute, kind of aardvark-looking, stuffed animal she named Pari, which is Finnish for two, Pari connected to hug is the name of her company; Parihug, or two hugs.
"I didn't want it to be super sappy and sweet. I just wanted a way to make my brain think it was getting a hug," Foxlin said.
Here's how it works; the Pari's are connected by software. When you hug your Pari, the sensors pick that up and send a message to the paired Pari, and it vibrates.
Whoever it is your missing hears the vibration or gets a message on their smart phone. When you both hug Pari at the same time, you'll feel a vibration and the heartbeat of the person at the other end.
"We did enable a bunch of features. When a child is playing with it at daycare, the parent will get an alert on their phone, 'Hey your child is playing with Pari, do you want someone to hug," Foxlin said.
Would any parent be able to resist that request?
Parihug has already reached their kick starter goal of $30 thousand and that will enable the manufacturing process to begin soon.
Foxlin sees endless possibilities. "I really see this exploding into the platform that figures out how people process emotions when it's through technology."
"Hopefully not too long," is the answer Foxlin gives when asked when Parihug could be on the market. Then, she hopes she'll have time to get back to work on her mechanical engineering degree.
Foxlin hopes, someday, to work as a Disney Imagineer.
Make sure to watch Cleveland 19 news Friday morning at 6:00 a.m. to see this story on TV.