Case Western student hopes to bridge the miles between loved ones with high-tech teddy bear

Posted at 6:28 PM, May 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 00:32:09-04

It's a basic human instinct to want to feel close to people, especially to those we love. We usually show our affection to one another in the form of a kiss or a hug, but what do you do when your loved ones are far away?

That was the issue for Xyla Foxlin, a Case Western Reserve University student who found herself approaching the deadline for a school project and really just needed a hug.

Out of that moment of desperation came an ingenious idea, and she created Paribus Huggus or “Parihug," a huggable stuffed animal that allows you to stay connected with loved no matter what distance separates you.

For Foxlin, it was a long distance relationship that sparked her idea to create “Pari," feeling that no matter how often or long they video chatted or texted they were still missing that connection.

“I just really needed a hug,” said Foxlin.

So how exactly does Pari work? Well, the stuffed animal is Bluetooth and WiFi equipped, and any time one Pari is hugged, the person who owns its twin will feel the vibrations and hear a purr to let them know their loved one is giving them a hug.

There is also a free Parihug app which allows you to select the person you want to hug, shows you their location, and allows you to send messages back and forth. Though the arms of the Pari will not actually wrap around you, Foxlin says it’s a touching way to physically feel someone’s love for you while separated.

So far Parihug has garnered more than $42,000 in crowdfunding fromKickStarter, and the bears are being manufactured by Cosmic Bobbins, a local sustainable lifestyle brand in Shaker Heights.

Aiming to continue producing Pari here in America, Foxlin also wants to expand on the products.

“We’re going to be fulfilling orders for the rest of the year, and early next year, we’re looking to work on partnerships with children’s hospital networks, and military spouses organizations,” she said.

For pledges ranging from $5 to $500, donors can get anything from a Pari travel tag, to multiple customizable Parihugs to give to those you love most.

With an invention like Pari, Foxlin may soon find herself at the center of the tech and business worlds, but she understands there is a shortage of successful women in the field.

“It’s not necessarily because they can’t successfully start their company but like to fund people that look like that and they can relate to and mentor, and unless other women are going to step up and fund and mentor other women, I think we’ll have a long way to go,” said Foxlin. 

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