Cybernetic relaxation time! French company Capsix Robotics and researchers from the University of Plymouth in the UK have created two robots that can offer personalized massages.
The Capsix robot massager has a robotic arm with sensors and a camera that allows it to adapt to the shape of the individual user's body. It has been programmed with different massage protocols developed by physiotherapists, and users can adjust the strength of the massage.
François Eyssautier Capsix, who designed the robot, says that over 4000 people have tried it and many (why not all?) they appreciated it. Some people are not sure at first, but "After 3 or 4 minutes they forget it's a robot and they relax"He says.
Capsix, the home massage robot
The advantage of having a robot that massages you is that "You must not have contact with anyone else", says Eyssautier. Very useful in the covid-19 era which does not recommend close contact with others. "Also, sometimes we don't want to be touched by other people, we just want to relax alone", he claims.
The massage robot of the University of Plymouth
This robot works in a similar way to Capsix, but can be further customized. Instead of limiting themselves to pre-programmed massage protocols, users can teach the robot to perform exactly the movements they prefer by physically guiding the arm in a "training" session.
In other words, people can teach the robot how to touch them. Chunxu Li, who co-designed the robot, is convinced that this is the right way.
But it is not a short way
Before robotic massagers can be as good as humans, it still takes a while. Almost needless to say. In human physiotherapist he can feel precisely the "hardest" points to dissolve, a feedback currently impossible for any cybernetic creature.
Also, because the robotic masseur's hands don't have fingers, they can't perform the same fine manipulations as human therapists.
Just as obviously, robotics and artificial intelligence will improve incredibly over time, and if Capsix and colleagues are the starting point, we will certainly see some good ones.
The Capsix Massager Robot is currently available for rental but not for purchase. The University of Plymouth is still under research, but researchers hope to make it available for purchase and home use soon.
References: Frontiers in Neurorobotics , DOI: 10.3389 / fnbot.2020.00030