An Israeli company has set out to ease chronic pain in the form of a vest that provides battery-powered hugs, the UK’s Daily Mail reports.
Developed by BioHug Technologies in Haifa, the vest, called the BioHug, has pockets of air that inflate around the body to create the sensation of a hug.
Hugs are thought to trigger the release of the hormone oxytocin, which can lower blood pressure and make people feel calm, while also reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
According to the Daily Mail, the BioHug contains a computer, and is pre-programmed to gives hugs at specific intervals and on different points of the body – the shoulders, lower back or middle back— stimulating tiny touch-detectors called pacinian corpuscles thought to activate the vagus nerve, which plays a crucial role in slowing the heartbeat and reducing blood pressure, as well as triggering the release of hormones.
According to the Daily Mail, trials have shown that volunteers experienced a reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after using the vest.
The vest is still undergoing clinical tests, two of which will take place at Ichilov Hospital in Israel.