Should I watch TV or hug?

The NYT reports that Carnegie Mellon researhers, seeking new ways to better connect distant grandparents and grandchildren, invented The Hug. Read the description of a grandchild calling her grandfather below. Will such devices and services be too goofy for connectedness in a personal network, or might they actually succeed?

"To send a hug…squeeze the left paw…and speak…the name into a microphone in the top of the torso. Voice recognition software…identifies the name and matches it to a preset phone number...The…Hug calls the grandfather's, which lights up and plays sounds. To accept the hug, he squeezes the left paw and says hello, opening a direct voice link between the two. (When) the girl squeezes or pats the device…Sensors convert those motions into a data stream that is sent to the other Hug and converted on that end into vibrations through small motors...Thermal fibers around the Hug's belly radiate heat that increases with time." Link.