Finalist category: Tech4Good People's Award and Winner of Winners 2020


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Digital Health Award, People's Award, Winner, 2020

HUG™ is a playful, sensory product designed for people living with advanced dementia. Designed to be cuddled, it provides the calming sensation of giving and receiving a hug and has been shown to soothe, comfort and reduce anxiety. HUG™ contains electronics that provide a simulated beating heart and the facility to play a personalised playlist of music. It has a soft rounded shape to allow people with advanced dementia to sit comfortably upright whilst supported by HUG™.  


The designers of HUG™ are researchers from the LAUGH project at Cardiff Metropolitan University. HUG™ was also designed with the help of carers, health professionals, technologists, people living with dementia, and by using advice from the Alzheimer’s Society.

The first HUG™ prototype had a profound beneficial impact on the person for whom it was designed. The evaluation evidenced positive outcomes for her health and wellbeing that, according to her professional carers and family, could only be attributed to using HUG™. She had no further falls, began to socialise with others and spoke again, her eating improved as did her general health. Despite being on end of life care, she lived happily for a further 9 months after she was given HUG™. 

HUG™ is currently being evaluated in a research trial with the NHS and care home company Sunrise Senior Living, funded by Welsh Government (ERDF). Early results indicate significant benefits to individual wellbeing. 

HUG™ has been featured in a short film produced by the BBC (watch the BBC film here ) and has reached the finals of Outstanding Dementia Product 2018 at the National Dementia Care Awards. The LAUGH team’s ambition is to scale up production of HUG™ to make it available to more people. The team has recently formed spin-out company HUG by LAUGH® ( to make this happen.


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