For centuries, many Asian cultures have been known for their traditional massage techniques. Nowadays, however, many Asian companies are becoming interested in translating these centuries-old practices into the latest AI software. Below, we’ll take a peek at three new devices from Asia that could have a major impact on the contemporary massage industry.
Malay Company OGAWA Reveals AI-Enabled Massage Chair
Executives at the Malaysian company OGAWA recently showed off their new AI-powered massage chair. Called the Master Drive Plus, this hi-tech chair has dozens of sensors that are able to detect a user’s overall wellbeing and recommend the best massage program for him/her.
According to OGAWA, the chair’s sensors collect data from trigger points along the user’s upper and lower back. All of this info gets filtered through the chair’s AI software, which then suggests the best massage options to the user.
There are almost 25 different full massage sessions pre-programmed in each chair’s system. Users can, however, mix-and-match different massage techniques to create about 500 individualized programs.
OGAWA executives emphasized this new chair provides guests with an immersive relaxation experience. Not only will guests get a soothing massage on a Master Drive Plus chair, but they will also be able to set lights and music from this device.
Every one of these chairs is equipped with high-quality speakers and lights which customers can control using a 7-inch touchscreen. Users can also ask this smart chair for updates on the latest sports, weather, and news during their session.
As of today, the Master Drive Plus is only available in countries with OGAWA stores or via OGAWA’s website. The current retail price for one of these massage chairs is 21,999 Malaysian Ringgits, which roughly translates to 5,265 USD.
Anyone interested in learning more about OGAWA or OGAWA’s products should visit the company’s website at https://www.ogawaworld.net/.
Competition From Xiaomi’s AI Intelligent Massage Chair
Although OGAWA is the latest Asian company to incorporate AI into massage chairs, it isn’t the first. Indeed, the Chinese electronics company Xiaomi recently put its own AI-enabled massage chair on the market.
Amazingly, Xiaomi’s new smart massage chair works totally by voice command. There are no touch screens or remote controls attached to this device.
Designers at Xiaomi say this AI Intelligent Massage Chair comes pre-programmed with six different massage sessions. Using the latest in AI software, Xiaomi’s chair will scan each person to determine the best massage routine for his/her issues.
While Xiaomi’s chair might not have all the bells and whistles of OGAWA’s product, it’s targeted at a younger demographic with less disposable income. Most of Xiaomi’s massage chairs sell for around 4,000 Chinese Yuan (about 600 USD).
Both of these massage chairs highlights the growing middle class across Asia. Some analysts believe devices like these chairs could put serious pressure on masseurs.
AI In The Future Of Massage Therapy
Not only are AI-enabled massage chairs expected to drive business away from professional massage therapists. Indeed, researchers in Japan are now hard at work creating robots that are able to perform the duties of licensed masseurs.
Engineers working at Toyohashi University recently teamed up with Tokyo manufactures to create a prototype hand and arm able to give a soothing back massage. This robotic hand has one large thumb that’s designed to knead tender trigger points. The four other fingers on this hand each have three joints designed for general massaging.
Currently, this machine masseur’s arm is able to detect the patient’s muscles via camera sensors. While this robotic hand is able to perform many aspects of a full-body massage, researchers say there’s still a great deal of work to be done.
Specifically, scientists in Japan want to collect data from experienced massage therapists and transfer them into the robotic arm’s software. By integrating AI learning into this robotic hand, scientists believe their arm could provide clients with extremely high-quality massages.
Will AI Replace Human Masseurs?
There’s no doubt AI-enabled massage devices will become more commonplace in Asia the ensuing years. The big unanswered question is, however, can a robot really replace the “human touch?” Will customers continue to demand massage sessions from licensed professionals, or will they gravitate towards more responsive AI chairs and robots? Only time will tell how much of a threat these AI devices pose to massage therapists’ livelihoods.