WAO-1 Therapeutic Face Massage Robot

WAO-1 (Waseda Asahi Oral Rehabilitation Robot 1) is an oral rehabilitation robot designed to give face massages. The robot will begin clinical tests in November.

(WAO-1 [Waseda Asahi Oral Rehabilitation Robot 1])

The arms of the robot are fitted with golf ball-sized ceramic spheres which are free to roll over the skin. Six sensors at the base of the arms measure and adjust pressure applied by the spheres, as computer algorithms direct the massage of the face.

WAO-1 performs massages by pressing the patient’s face from both sides. Each arm’s position and angle can be precisely controlled, as can the direction of the pressure applied to the face. WAO-1 also relies on a complex system of software and fuses to ensure the pressure does not exceed a certain level, and it is equipped with a “torque limiter function” that allows the arms to bend back should the robot begin to exert too much force.

WAO-1 will eventually learn other massage techniques on other parts of the body. The robot's massage techniques are intended to help people with disorders like TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), a condition which makes simply opening the mouth painful.

In Frank Herbert's clever story The Tactful Saboteur, he introduces the idea of genetically manipulated "animals" that take the place of common household objects - like the chairdog:

The room's standard model chairdogs had been well trained to comfort their masters, McKie noted. One of them nudged him behind the knees until he dropped his bag and took a reluctant seat. The chairdog began massaging his back. Obviously it had been instructed to make him comfortable while someone was summoned.
(Read more about the chairdog)

In this case, the algorithms that ensure proper massage within the limits of human animal tolerance are provided by eons of evolution.

Also, check out these other cool robots developed by Takanishi and colleagues:

Via LiveScience and Pink Tentacle.

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