Much has been made of the way technology has helped people stay connected since the introduction of social distancing measures and travel bans due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
But anyone who has been separated from a loved one knows that even a video call falls short of the feeling of being together in real life. Many people have spoken about just wanting to give their friend or family member a hug.
With a new jacket created by H&M Lab, the fast fashion giant’s innovation hub in Berlin, they just might be able to.
Earlier this month, the lab unveiled a new denim jacket with flexible sensors built into the shoulder areas, which gives the wearer the feeling of being hugged when the sensors are activated.
Every jacket comes with a registration code that the user can share with their loved ones via an accompanying app. Only those with the registration code will be able to activate the sensors to let the jacket-wearer know they are thinking of them. Contacts can also create an individual touch pattern, so it’s clear who the hug has come from. The sensors are activated via the app by Bluetooth.
The lab is calling the concept “Wearable Love”. It released a video about the invention earlier this month, but it is not yet clear when or where the jacket will be available for purchase, or how much it will cost.
H&M is not the first apparel brand to explore the possibilities of wearable technology. Levi’s has also put sensors in a denim jacket, but they were geared towards more functional tasks, such as answering a phone call without having to take your mobile device out of your pocket. The context of the coronavirus has created an opportunity to explore new use cases for wearable tech.
“Whether long-distance relationship or social distancing – no matter why you can’t have your loved ones around you: wearable love helps you to overcome boundaries and brings together what belongs together,” H&M Lab said on its website.
H&M Lab created the Wearable Love jacket together with Boltware, a Berlin startup whose mission it is to turn analog garments into modern tech devices.