No matter how old, there’s no one who wouldn’t like coming home to a warm hug. But what if you don’t live with your loved ones or are away on business? What about children who need a hug from Mom but she’s not home? 20-year-old Xyla Foxlin has solved this problem by creating Parihug — a stuffed animal that recreates a hug from your favorite person.
Prepare to be amazed!
Foxlin, who is studying engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, was inspired by her own long distance relationship. She tells Babble:
“My partner (of the time) lived 1,300 miles away from me and I frequently would come home and simply wish I could get a hug. After looking around online for a solution, I found that there wasn’t one — so I set out to build it.”
Her first prototype featured two Baymax dolls (from Disney’s Big Hero 6), which she created with another female engineer during a hack-a-thon. They paired two dolls so that if one were hugged, the other would vibrate. If you’re not impressed yet, note that Foxlin accomplished this first version of the product in only 36 hours — as a teenager.
This first creation eventually evolved into Parihug. Foxlin explains, “When one Pari is hugged, its paired pal gently ‘purrs’ out the hug in real time and vice versa. It is a gentle vibration designed to be extremely soothing.”
Sign me up — not only does this sound like the perfect gift for children of divorce or for parents that travel often, it also seems to be great for anyone who needs a little pick-me-up at the end of a stressful day.
Foxlin agrees, noting that Parihug’s target audience started out as parents who couldn’t be with their kids for whatever reason. However, as they developed the product, more people reached out to share their stories about why this doll was so important to them.
“We found grandparents who missed their grandchildren, adults with parents in elderly care, therapists and parents of disabled children or kids with learning disabilities, long distance couples, families split between hospital and home, and more who all desperately wanted this product,” Foxlin explains.
As someone who has experienced both a separation from my family and a four-year long distance relationship, I can’t help but want to get my own hands on one of these. And it doesn’t hurt that the Pari doll itself looks so snuggly.
I couldn’t quite put my finger on what species a Pari is; luckily Foxlin cleared that right up for me. “Each Pari is its own species, designed to let kids make up a backstory,” she notes. Foxlin also mentioned that the doll is genderless so kids can really personalize it to their lives. How cool!
It’s clear that Foxlin and her Parihug team have created an incredible, sentimental product. For the 20-year-old student, her favorite part has been hearing how the doll has impacted others. “There’s nothing more heartwarming than a family reaching out to you and sharing a piece of themselves with you,” she says.
Foxlin is immensely proud of what she has achieved so far. While still living in the college dorms, she is taking a year off to focus on Parihug. She has big dreams and hopes to someday become a Disney Imagineer, but right now she’s more than thrilled to bring Pari to as many customers as she can — as soon as possible.
“A year and a half ago I would never have imagined that my little hack-a-thon project would have so much support. I suppose that’s what happens when you build something out of heart,” Foxlin gushes.