Emma is a masseuse who is able to give athletes deep tissue, sport, and wellness massages. Despite her skill and technique, she isn’t likely to make it to the employee roster of the spas she works in—after all, ‘she’s’ a robot. Developed by Singapore-based startup, AiTreat, EMMA specializes in Tui Na—a deep tissue massage, which is used to treat sports injuries, back pain, and other conditions.

How will this new technology change the face of massage as we know it and what similar technologies can you start using until EMMA becomes part and parcel of the services offered by your local gym or spa?

What is EMMA?

EMMA (Expert Manipulative Massage Automation) is a robot created specifically for sports therapy. It is programmed to offer high quality treatments that boost recovery from conditions such as tennis elbow, stiff neck and shoulders, and lower back pain. It comprises a massage tip that is pleasantly warm, as well as a 3D stereoscopic camera.

The arm is fitted with sensors and diagnostic technology so that aspects such as muscle tension and other problems can be detected and responded to. All diagnostics obtained are uploaded to the Cloud so that clients can monitor their progress over time. The massage is meant to be used in professional clinics and it combines traditional physiotherapy and Chinese medicine massage techniques.

It is not meant to completely replace human professionals. It simply prevents the latter from wasting time on tedious, repetitive tasks so they can focus on the top 10% of techniques that require a high level of skill.

What Level of Technology is Currently Available?

EMMA is predicted to become an important piece of equipment in physiotherapy clinics but until then what everyday technology is available to athletes? One popular technique is percussion massage, imparted by machines like Theragun and Hypervolt. These guns are handheld and designed for use in any area of the body experiencing pain or stiffness post-exercise.

Often used by chiropractors, they go deep into tissue muscle, providing percussive instead of vibrational therapy. They can be an important aid in injury prevention and recovery but if you have experienced an injury, it is a good idea to obtain advice from a physiotherapist regarding the right timing and intensity to employ.

How AI can Improve Current Technologies

AI, used in EMMA, will hopefully form part of home massage devices as well. This technology can help diagnose problems that are not immediately apparent. For instance, pain in the knees can require massage in the back as well as the leg area.

Moreover, as is the case with massage guns, the machine can be programmed to give various types of massage that vary in intensity. Personalization is key when it comes to massage therapy, since athletes can require deeper, stronger manipulation than clients after a soothing or sedating massage.

EMMA is a new AI-fitted robot massager that promises to play an important role in preventing and treating sports injuries. It has diagnostic and adaptive massage functions and gives physiotherapy and traditional Chinese massages. Like gun massagers, EMMA has the ability to reach deeper tissue, while also diagnosing possible problems in various parts of the body—even those that are not causing pain.

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