A group of students at a major college in Ho Chi Minh City have taken home first prize from a national design competition for their massage robot.
The robot, affectionately known as Massage Bot, is the brainchild of four students from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education, one of the leading higher technological education institutions in southern Vietnam.
The machine was highly praised for its ingeniousness and applicability by the judges of the Student Scientific Research Contest, sponsored in part by the Ministry of Education and Training, at the awards ceremony on October 27.
The Massage Bot’s design includes two metal arms with a camera mounted on each.
The cameras are used to take pictures of users’ backs when they are lying in bed. The pictures are then sent to a photo editing program which determines the back’s size and the spine’s coordinates.
The robot’s built-in artificial intelligence technology then combines that data with given information on each user’s age and gender to find the best areas to apply pressure.
These are locations on the body that, if pressed, are key to treating health problems, according to acupuncture and acupressure practitioners.
Next, the robot selects a suitable massage technique based on the user’s case history.
The students have figured out three different massage routines to treat back myositis (or muscle swelling), back pain, and aches in the shoulders and neck, each lasting 20-25 minutes.
Nguyen Tran Thanh Phong, one of Massage Bot’s designers, said his team had to study traditional medicine, anthropometry, and the human body’s physical properties in order to locate acupuncture points.
Sensors attached to the machine’s arms can determine if the user feels pain during the massage and let the robot know to adjust accordingly.
The cameras can perform real-time calculations of the back coordinates and enable the robot’s limbs to move correctly, even if the user is restless along the way.
After the service, Massage Bot saves the user’s information to its memory base in order to establish a case history and put it on the Internet for the user to access.
The robot also uses this information to automatically choose an appropriate massage technique for the same person during future visits.