Would you get a massage from a robot? Well this is now possible at the NovaHealth Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic in Singapore. This is thanks to EMMA, or Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, the robot masseuse who has abilities to challenge its human counterparts.
It mimics the human palm and thumb to replicate therapeutic massages such as shiatsu and physiotherapy. It has a highly articulated arm with soft massage tips that mimic the human palm and thumb that replicate the traditional acupoint massage known as “tuina”.
Specialising in back and knee massages, EMMA started work at NovaHealth TCM clinic, working hand-in-hand with her human colleagues, a physician and a massage therapist.
But aren’t patients at this facility scared to be massaged by a robot?
“Some of them yes because they watch a lot of horror movies but there are also many who are surprised because when you think about robots, you imagine something cold and hard but when it gives you a massage, many people say: wow, I thought it was your hand,” said Calista Lim, a physician at the clinic.
For about 60 to 150 dollars, patients can purchase a conventional package that includes consultation, acupuncture, and a 20-minute massage.
“This is the world’s first commercially used masseuse. For decades scientists and researchers have tried to develop massage giving robots but we are the first to commercialize it, to develop a real robot able to give massages that we can actually use,” said Zhang Yizhong, the director of the NovaHealth Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic.
The robot does not replace the therapists but rather reduces their workloads. This technology also allows the therapists to tend to two patients at once.
Patients also receive longer massages, as there won’t be a problem with anyone’s hands getting tired.
“The human being is always a key part of the treatment process.” The doctor decides what to do, where and how to do it. “Robots follow instructions and massage,” said the director.
Not only can EMMA deliver massage therapies more efficiently for longer periods of time, it can also help the healthcare sector to become more affordable as well.