Cox Partners with CuteCircuit to Manufacture ‘HugShirts’ for Socially Isolated Individuals During COVID-19

Originally published on LinkedIn and at Cox Communications ranked No. 32 on The Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.


For many of us, vaccines being readily available means a return to connection. To loved ones. To hugs. But there are those for whom the vaccine is too great a risk. Immunocompromised individuals will remain isolated, unable to take a vaccine. And with the COVID virus still highly transmissible, kept physically apart from loved ones and the support they need to continue.

That’s why Cox stepped in to help. Partnering with technology innovator, CuteCircuit (the world’s first interactive fashion brand), Cox manufactured “HugShirts” programmed to emulate a hug. Haptic sensors in the shirt connect two people. Isolated individuals will be able to feel the touch of a husband or a grandchild just as if they are there with them. Shirts were designed after analyzing dozens of hugs – and mapping hand positions with sensors and haptic actuators designed to give and receive the sensation of touch. Each hug is unique, giving individuals the support, they need to continue while keeping them safe.

The Hug Project follows three families with immune-compromised members — unable to be together in-person, sharing hugs via innovative technology and connecting in a whole new way. For Gary, who faces a terminal cancer diagnosis that left him with a weakened immune system, staying safe means he can’t even hug his own daughter. Watch a clip of their “digital hug” below.