A Hugging Machine or better and commnly known as a hug machine, also known as a hug box, a squeeze machine, or a squeeze box is a deep-pressure device designed to calm hypersensitive persons, usually individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The therapeutic, stress-relieving device was invented by Temple Grandin while she was attending college.
In The Big Bang Theory
In "The Maternal Capacitance" (S2E15), Leonard mentions that he built a hugging machine when he was 10 years old, which has only been mentioned in that episode. The machine was used to give people hugs. Because of the lack of affection from his mother, Leonard was desperate for some human warmth and companionship and thus, he built the hugging machine. Leonard built the machine by getting a dressmaker's mannequin, stuffing it with an electric blanket so it'd be warm and he built two radio-controlled arms used to hug the user and pat and their back. Leonard told all this to Penny in her apartment and commented that that is so sad, but it turns out that there was a sadder part, which Leonard said was the saddest part, which was that his father used to borrow the machine.
In "The Champagne Reflection", Penny commented on Dan, her boss at Zangen as her boss who didn’t want to hire her and was now a little hug machine, while Dan commented on Penny as brand new and already the third best sales rep.