Hitting all the right notes as sisters' app sends a musical virtual hug to loved ones 

Perry and Jacqui Meskill who have set up a virtual hugs app called Huggnote

Nicola Anderson

Today is International Hugging Day, but with lockdown things just aren't the same.

Two Irish sisters have come up with a way to send a musical virtual hug to warm the heart of a loved one, filling the gap until we can squeeze each other properly again.

Just like popular video-calling app Zoom, their app, Huggnote, was conceived long before the coronavirus struck but has come into its own in these socially distanced times.

It allows users to send a song to capture emotions, along with a personal message for the recipient.

Sisters Jacqui and Perry Meskell, from Limerick city, came up with the idea over three years ago when Jacqui was working in Brussels.

A friend was going through a difficult time and a song came on the radio that suddenly brought back happy college memories for Jacqui.

"It was Fuzzy by Grant Lee Buffalo," she revealed, laughing that the song had transported her back in time and she wanted to share that feeling with her friend.

However, she realised there was no way to send it in a way that felt special.

"I ended up emailing her a link to the song on YouTube," Jacqui said, adding that she had wanted it to be a nicer experience.

With Jacqui's background in media and Perry's qualification in tech commercialisation and business administration, Huggnote fell into place.

"We couldn't believe that no smart guy in Silicon Valley hadn't already come up with this," Jacqui said.


Now, Huggnote has hundreds of thousands of users in 205 countries and was the only Irish company to win a Mozilla 'Fix the Internet' Builders Award - helping to rectify the often toxic atmosphere online.

"When you send someone a song, you're presenting your authentic self in a way that can even make you feel a little bit vulnerable," Jacqui said.

The most popular song sent by Huggnote users is Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You.