“Cyberhugs” for loved ones that are apart

Technology is sometimes seen as driving people away from one another, but when a parent or a loved is away, the next best thing is the telephone or better, the Internet.

Yet these people who are longing for more than an ”I love you” over the phone do not have to be dissapointed any longer.

Scientist and associate professor Adrian Cheok of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University developed a jacket that gives “cyber-hugs.”

The jackets were developed mainly for children whose parents traveled often. Cheok told CNN.com that ”for a while technology has been driving people apart, locking them in front of computer screens, now we hope to use it to bring them together.” Teddy bears equipped with sensors are used to record parental hugs and transmit them wirelessly over the internet. The jackets will convert embraces by using mobile phone style vibrations and heated copper threads.

Cheok’s team has already developed a prototype ‘poultry internet’ project that allows people to remotely stroke their chickens-a device that can be used for other animals as well.

The jackets should be commercially available in June of 2006 a Valentine’s Day version for couples is in development.

However, Buck Community College sophomore Clarice Kromah and her boyfriend Francis Caesar of Cheney University say they would not buy the product because they rather hug one another in person.

Kromah said “I now that people are going to go crazy with this product, and probably turn it into something completely different.”

But Cheok says he doesn’t have any plans to explore the more intimate possibilities for the technology.