Despite still being an undergrad at Case Western Reserve University, Xyla Foxlin is already on her way to creating what many have called the next big startup. Her company, Parihug, claims to be putting “humanity back into technological connection” through a pair of wifi-connected teddy bears.
The idea is that two people can be across the world from each other and whenever they are missing their loved one, they can hug their bear. This action transmits a signal to the matching bear, producing a gentle vibration in real-time and allowing people to stay connected despite long distances.
But not only is Foxlin’s idea charming, the value of hugs has been scientifically proven.
Whenever a hug is received, a small dose of oxytocin (known as the “love hormone”) is sent throughout the system. This hormone is incredibly important for childhood development, especially in children between the ages of two and seven, as it affects the ability to establish relationships later in life.
Although technology already exists to make an audio connection via plush toys, oxytocin can only be released through human touch. This makes Parihug unique, since the bears can create surrogate relationships for children who are separated from their parents. However, the bears can be used for any loved ones who are missed, such as friends, grandparents and partners.
Foxlin first had the idea when her and her boyfriend entered into a long distance relationship, eventually putting it into action as a hackathon project. It has since gained national attention. Parihug and Foxlin have already won multiple awards and grants to continue to develop the project.
The brand is planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign this fall or following spring. Parihug is something to be excited about, after all, as Foxlin puts it simply, “Everyone misses someone.”