Panasonic recently demonstrated the first ever robotic hair washing machine which is now being tested at a hair salon in Japan and might replace human hair washers in the future. Should hair stylists have anything to worry about?
Back in 2010 Panasonic displayed a prototype of a new type of robot that can perform a feet only humans have done so far – wash and shampoo hair. Two years later and the robot seems ready for prime time in the first robotic hair salon in the world.
The new robot utilizes a special mechanism that learns a variety of head shapes and was developed to resemble a human person giving a head massage. Initially the robot uses a large amount of hot water to loosen up the hair and apply a small amount of hair gel and shampoo to the user. The next step for the robot is to wash the hair using water coming from a number of small nozzles and then moving on to massage the scalp by applying 24 robber “fingers”.
The fingers can be finely moved using separate independent mechanisms for a comfortable fit to any head size (the robot uses a special arm that can extend to support different head sizes). There are 8 fingers on each side plus 8 fingers at the base of the scalp. The robot also sprays a special hair conditioner in the form of a mist that spreads uniformly across the hair. In the final stage the robot gives the user a full and relaxing head massage while blow-drying the hair.
According to Panasonic the applications of the robotic hair washer go far beyond normal hair salons. Hospitals as well as nursing homes and care facilities are prime candidates for the hair washing robot which can help reduce burden on the stuff and cut costs while providing an important service for the patients.
Panasonic started testing the robotic hair washer in early April 2012 at beauty salons in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture for the next two months period in order to receive feedback from customers before marketing the technology.
– A video showing the hair washing robot in action
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.