With steely arms sprouting cables and wires, the WAO-1 robot looks nothing like a relaxation device. But researchers at Tokyo’s Waseda University hope the contraption will soon be deployed to hospitals and spas across Japan to give therapeutic facial massages.
The WAO-1 robot, which stands for Waseda Asahi Oral Rehabilitation Robot 1, is being developed initially for patients with jaw-related medical problems who require facial massages as part of their treatment, according to project leader Atsuo Takanishi.
The robot’s arms are fitted with ceramic golf ball-sized spheres that roll over the skin. The arms’ movements are controlled by a complex set of algorithms designed to emulate massages, while six sensors at the base of the arms measure and adjust the pressure applied by the spheres, Takahashi said.
The team is set to start clinical trials using the robot in November, according to Takanishi.