Rizon 4 robot could reduce the cost of back massages
While massage therapy is certainly helpful for some back problems, it also tends to be expensive. California tech company Flexiv has set out to change that, by getting a back-massaging robot to do the job.
Flexiv is utilizing its existing Rizon 4 robotic arm, which has seven degrees of freedom and a weight of 20 kg (44 lb). For this particular application, it is equipped with a new soft silicone heated massage tool.
Using a combination of computer vision and AI-based software (on a linked control box), the bot starts by identifying the approximate location of the patient's spine and key muscle groups. It then utilizes its silicone tool and a force feedback system to establish their exact location via some gentle probing.
In the ensuing massage, the robot uses that same tool to knead, push and press into the patient's back muscles, emulating the techniques used in Chinese deep tissue massage. It can be instructed to either give an overall back massage, or to target specific areas of the back.
According to Flexiv, the modified Rizon 4 is "absolutely safe," plus it can automatically adjust its massages to people of all shapes and sizes. It also won't get tired or distracted, nor will the quality of the massages vary from robot to robot, or session to session.
"We aim to make robotic massage mainstream and, in the process, reduce its cost while increasing its availability," said Flexiv marketing director Yunfan Gao. "People think nothing of buying food or drink from a vending machine, and we hope they will think the same way about purchasing a robotic massage."
And while a massage-giving robot may seem kind of out-there, this actually isn't the first one we've seen. The Emma 3.0 (Expert Manipulative Massage Automation) robot entered service in a Singapore clinic back in 2017.
The Rizon 4 robot can be seen in back-massaging action, in the video below.