KITCHENER -- The Hug Glove is a barrier that brings you together, according to its creator Carolyn Ellis.

The idea came from wanting to hug her mom for Mother’s Day last year.

That first hug video was posted online by Ellis and it went viral - with requests for the hug glove soon pouring in from around the world.

“I realized we wanted people to experience that hug, not just see a video about it,” said Ellis.

The initial Hug Glove was made from a clear tarp, garbage bags and tape, and hung from a clothesline outside.

Ellis said she wanted to make it more practical, so last spring, she reached out to Barbarian Medical Inc. a Kitchener-based company. They now have an official design created.

“Being a part of anything the enables people to interact and to do it safely is a great honour, and it is a great privilege to be a part of that whole equation,” said Steve Wagner, president and owner of Barbarian Medical Inc.

Over the past year, Ellis has been working with the company to create a sustainable Hug Glove. The top half is now made of plastic that can be easily disinfected, and the bottom half is made of a medical-grade gown that is machine washable.

Using Velcro and adhesives, it can fit any doorframe. The armholes have been lowered to make it wheelchair accessible or for someone who needs to be seated.

According to Ellis, now that the product is being manufactured she is working with Health Canada to get them tested and approved for retirement and care homes who have expressed interest, wanting to bring hugs back to their facilities.

“Hugs help with stress, depression, anxiety. Just the comfort of knowing there's somebody you can give a great big hug to and say I love you or I miss you,” said Marlene Watson, a sales consultant with Stone Lodge Retirement Residences.

For Ellis's mother Susan Watts, the very first recipient of a hug glove embrace, the small gesture goes a long way.

“I think if there's one thing that pandemic has really taught us is that we need each other and that a hug is really special,” Watts said.

Preorders for the product have already started coming in and the first official Hug Glove deliveries are scheduled for June.