Your next massage could be given by Emma the robot masseuse
Masseuses of the world can now officially add themselves to the category of ‘those in danger of being replaced by a robot’, as a robot masseuse has started work in Singapore.
The machine, called Expert Manipulative Massage Automation or Emma for short, is at a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic and it is said to special in back and knee massages. It can’t yet be used on more sensitive places, like the neck.
Emma uses sensors to measure how stiff its clients’ muscles and tendons are, and uses artificial intelligence to work out the pressure it should use. Its robot arm mimics the motion of a human palm and thumb, and silicon massage tips on both parts can warm up, to make it feel more human.
Emma was developed by AiTreat, a technology start-up company from Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The team hope the machine will be used to reduce the price of therapeutic massage treatments.
“By using Emma to do the labour intensive massages, we can now offer a longer therapy session for patients while reducing the cost of treatment,” said Mr Albert Zhang, an alumnus of NTU Singapore who led the development of Emma. But Emma won’t be replacing its human counterparts just yet.
“The human therapist is then free to focus on other areas such as the neck and limb joints which Emma can’t massage at the moment.”
“There is great potential for Emma to be of service to society, especially as the population ages,” said Mr Inderjit Singh, Chairman of NTUitive, NTU’s innovation and enterprise arm.
“The massage techniques of experienced and renowned TCM physicians can be reproduced in Emma, giving the public easier access to quality treatment. I look forward to future studies which could improve the efficacy of such massages, using herbal ointments containing modern ingredients that improve wear and tear, such as glucosamine.”