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A Vest to Hug You 83

Roland Piquepaille writes "In "New vest offers wearer a portable hug," the Boston Globe reports that engineers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have designed a vest to help people suffering from autism or high anxiety. This inflatable vest has pockets that hold air bladders and is powered by 10 AA batteries. When you push a button, the vest squeezes — or hugs — you. Now the engineers also want to know if their vest is effective — apparently a premiere. So they're testing it with both students and psychatric patients. So far, it's just a prototype, but read more for additional details and a picture of this hugging vest."
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A Vest to Hug You

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  • Hugging machines (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:20AM (#16407931)
    Here's the original hug machine the story refers to, if you're interested. []
    Of course, Dr. Grandin also designs slaughterhouses.
  • Re:Eeeh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by mooingyak ( 720677 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:45AM (#16408313)
    Actually, that's not too far from one of the existing approaches:

    Hug Box []
  • Re:Eeeh... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:51AM (#16409347)
    And I can verify this first hand as I suffer from a mild form of autism. Very often I get sensory overload from all the input feeding into my brain. This is literally enough to drive you insane and can lead to major anxiety disorders as it did in my case. This thing would be great because when you are squeezed it blocks off all the inconsistant sensory input and has a very real calming effect. If I had that plus eye covers and noise cancelling headphones then I'm in heaven.
  • Re:Eeeh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by AEther141 ( 585834 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:37PM (#16410037)
    Other way round. Temple Grandin [] is one of the foremost experts in slaughterhouse design, the first to design a slaughterhouse from a cow's perspective. The hug box is a spin-off from the meat industry where similar devices have been used for years as an aid to cattle handling. Temple noticed the calming effect of enveloping pressure on cattle and tried it for herself. She believes that autistic people can tell us a lot about animal behaviour and vice versa - her success in the field would suggest that she's right.
  • The Squeeze Machine (Score:3, Informative)

    by tigre ( 178245 ) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:42PM (#16410969)
    This is a variation on the Squeeze Machine that Temple Grandin developed for herself. Some types of autistics need/crave tactile stimulation. It can help them organize themselves, and even can be a form of pleasure. I know one fellow with Asperger's who said he loved it when people punched him in the gut.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen