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OTO The hugging chair made for people with autism

OTO integrate an innovative hugging mechanism in an aesthetic piece of furniture. This hugging function is designed for the well-being of autistic people with sensory integration disorders.

  • OTO The hugging Chair ©Coralie Monnet

  • OTO The hugging chair ©Coralie Monnet

  • OTO The hugging chair ©Coralie Monnet

  • OTO The hugging chair ©Sonya Henrionnet

  • OTO The hugging chair ©Sonya Henrionnet

What it does

The hug chair has inner walls that can apply deep pressure on the chest or on the legs. This allows to feel the limits of your body and focus on sensory information and reduce tension to help people with autism feel better in their environment.

Your inspiration

During my studies as a cabinetmaker and designer, I met educators who work with autistic people that have specific needs. Many autistic people have sensory disorders. Noise, light or physical contact can be a real challenge in everyday life, a source of discomfort, or a sensory overload have a significant impact on the behaviour of people with autism. To compensate this sensory disorder autistic people regularly feel the need to be held very tightly or to be hugged. It has been prooved that deep pressure help them to become more aware of their environment to feel their body limits and be more peaceful.

How it works

This wood chair has inner walls that inflate and create deep pressure on the user's legs and chest. The aim of the chair is to be used autonomously in order to make users respond to their own sensory needs. OTO is easy to use. The remote have + and - pictorgrams buttons that inflate or deflate cells. An electronic card control the aeraulic circuit and the pump to be activated or not. A tablet can be connected to the chair for the companion and allow to set level of pressure according to the needs of each person and to follow the use of the chair live. Thanks to its cocoon shape, OTO offers privacy and gives a reassuring effect and a feeling of safety for the user. The upholstery of the chair provides a muffled acoustic, that help user to focus on their own body and isolate themselves from the outside world.

Design process

The prototype of this chair has been build as an end of studies project in cabinet making and design. The design have been done with its users : people with autism and educators have been integrated at the beginning of this project : I spent time with autistic people, with specialized educators and psychometricians to understand their daily life and their needs to make useful furniture. Then a very simple model was build to test the hugging functions and improve its way to use it (to make usable furniture). Now, since January 2021, the hugging chair is being tested in the child psychiatry department of PR Bonnet-Brilhault which is recognized as a national center of excellence for autism. This test are made to evaluate the impact or the effect of the chair (to make furniture that will be used) The integration of users in the design process allowed me to improve the user experience and focus on noise or light emitted by the chair and understand what could be an issue for a person with an autism spectrum disorder. This approach will help me to produce furniture that is useful, usable and used in the long term

How it is different

OTO The hugging chair is innovative because very few products exist on the market to apply deep pressure on the body. The current solutions used to feel the limits of your body if you have sensory disorder are to be held tightly in someone's arms or to be pinned to the ground by the weight of another person or to lie down under a mattress to get this feeling. These solutions are unsatisfactory and unsuitable. OTO, the hugging chair, is innovative because it meets this need in an ethical manner and with the user's control. Users and the medical team confirm that it is important to have access to non-stigmatising therapeutic furniture that could contribute to the soothing effect. OTO is innovative for the hugging system. Most devices are based on passive compression systems (e.g. weighted blanket or foam compression canoe). OTO could apply deeper and greater pressure that could be controlled by the user.

Future plans

The objective is to be able to offer a product for sale in September 2022. There are more steps, first the manufacturing process must be optimized to get an affordable price. To do so, I am working with different technical partners such as "Ecole supérieur du bois" in Nantes. In October 2021 I will build 5 chairs that will be integrated into different environments and help to identify the different practices of the hugging chair. As neuro-psychiatrists are interested in clinical study with OTO the hugging chair, one should start in January 2022 supported by the Neurodevelopment Living-Lab organised by the Sorbonne University in Paris.


2020 october : The "canopée" award in the field of wood innovation by Xylofutur that make me work with Higher School of engineering of Wood in Nantes. 2020 december : The child health innovation award (Prix de l'innovation pour la santé de l'enfant) by the medical jury of the "St Pierre" foundation

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