Wednesday, July 17, 2019
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Would you get a massage from a Robot? Singapore’s robot masseuse starts work


* Emma is a robot masseuse specialises in back and knee massage

* Advanced sensors as well as cloud-based computing allow Emma to measure muscle stiffness, calculate the optimal massage and to track a patient’s recovery over the course of a treatment

* Emma is a product of a two-year-old technology startup called AiTreat, founded by NTU graduate, Mr Albert Zhang


Singapore’s first robot masseuse has started work today. Named ‘Emma’ short for Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, she specialises in back and knee massage, mimicking human palm and thumb to replicate therapeutic massages such as shiatsu and physiotherapy.

Emma started work today on her first patients at the NovaHealth Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic, working alongside two human colleagues – a physician and a massage therapist.

Emma 3.0 – the first to go into public service – offers a wide range of massage options which patients have described as indistinguishable from a professional masseuse.

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Advanced sensors as well as cloud-based computing allow Emma to measure muscle stiffness, calculate the optimal massage and to track a patient’s recovery over the course of a treatment.

Emma is a product of a technology startup called AiTreat. The two year-old is already company is already valued at SGD $10 million (USD $7.3 million) after it recently completed its second round of seed funding, supported by venture capitalists from Singapore, China, and the US.

Founder of AiTreat and NovaHealth, Mr Albert Zhang who led the development of Emma said the company’s technology aims to address workforce shortages and quality consistency challenges in the healthcare industry.

Using Emma to treat chronic pain has the potential of creating low-cost treatment alternatives in countries where healthcare costs are high, and where aging population have a growing demand for such treatments.

Mr Zhang – a graduate of Nanyang Technological University’s Double Degree programme in Biomedical Sciences and Chinese Medicine – said Emma was designed to provide a clinically precise massage according to the prescription of a qualified Traditional Chinese Medicine physician or physiotherapist without the fatigue faced by human therapists.

Credit: Nanyang Technological University
Credit: Nanyang Technological University

HOW EMMA WORKS

Emma has a touch screen with fully articulated robotic limb six degrees of freedom – meaning she can move up, down, forward, backward, right and left. Fixed to the end of the robot’s limb are two soft massage tips that are made of Silicone, which can be warmed for comfort.

Emma’s advanced sensors and diagnostic feature can measure exact stiffness of a particular muscle or tendon. The data collected for each patient is then transmitted to a cloud server where an AI computes the exact pressure to be delivered during a massage procedure.

The AI also tracks and analyses a patient’s progress, drawing up performance report that can help a physician measure a patient’s recovery using empirical data.

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[Featured photo: Nanyang Technological University]

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Akin A
A MUFC fan with serious love for gadgets and all things tech. Not the movie-loving type, more like the kinda guy you'll see with a PS4 controller. I like good music - any type, as long as it sounds good. Oh and I'm a very picky eater too. Apart from science and tech, I follow all kinda stuff in politics, sports, business and entrepreneurship.

2 thoughts on “Would you get a massage from a Robot? Singapore’s robot masseuse starts work

  1. There is a possibility of the robot being hacked to actually kill the client. Maybe I’ve been watching too much sci-fi movies LOL.

    1. Yes there’s a possibility of that, especially because the robot connects to a cloud service. I hope the manufacturers would have put all that into consideration however

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