A New Kind of Warm and Fuzzy Sweater

We’re constantly reading about how virtual and online networks are replacing physical human interactions. But while I visited Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry over the holidays, I saw an exhibit about a company that’s bridging the divide. The company, called CuteCircuit, makes clothing with “wearable technology” – and actually offers a shirt that allows people who aren’t in the same location to give each other a hug.

Here’s how it works — if you and your friends or family wear Hug Shirts, you can hug your own shirt and SMS it to your loved one so they’ll physically feel the embrace. The Hug Shirt takes into account everything from your hug pressure to your skin temperature.  (And it’s even washable!)

The shirt was first introduced in 2004 and was nominated as one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions in 2006 but CuteCircuit still hasn’t announced when it will be available for purchase. Fingers crossed that it will be ready by holiday 2009. I keep moving further and further away from my family and I can’t imagine a gift my mom would love more.

CuteCurcuit is developing a lot of other technology-infused clothing too, including a Skirteleon, a skirt that changes color based on your mood, and an A-Nerve, a sleeve with pleats that change pattern when your cell phone rings. If you’re in the Chicago area, I highly recommend you check out the Museum of Science and Industry’s Fast Forward exhibit, where you can see the Hug Shirt. Also on display is the Galaxy Dress, a wearable LED dress. It takes adding sparkle to your wardrobe to a whole new level.