Hair-washing robot leaves your locks silky-smooth

Still washing your own hair? Lie back, think of Japan, and let Panasonic's hair-washing bot do the job.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
Lie back and let those mechatronic fingers give your scalp some love. Panasonic

Bad hair day? Now you can blame your robot. Panasonic has developed a hair-washing bot that lets you lie down while your locks are gently shampooed.

Designed for Japan's growing elderly and bedridden population, the device consists of a reclining chair and a computerized washbasin.

The machine incorporates robot hand technology, with 16 mechatronic magic fingers that rinse and wash hair. It also remembers each user's individual data, such as head shape and massage preferences.

According to a Panasonic release, a moving arm in the machine first scans your head in 3D to determine its shape and the optimal amount of force to use while shampooing (one hopes this is foolproof technology).

Next, the robot's 16 fingers gently massage your scalp while a three-motor arm moves back and forth and force sensors ensure a delicate touch.


Panasonic is also demonstrating a simplified version of its wheelchair bed, which facilitates mobility for bedridden people. The Electric Care Bed is more practical, consisting merely of a bed that partly converts into a wheelchair, and lacking the robotic canopy of the model announced last year.

The number of parts and motors has been reduced, and the chair does not have joystick control like its precursor, though it does have power-assist functions to reduce the burden on caregivers.

The shampoo bot and wheelchair bed are being shown off at the International Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition from September 29 to October 1 in Tokyo. Panasonic hasn't announced prices or release dates yet. These devices would join others that automate nursing care, such as Sanyo's Hirb human washing machine, and robot nurses like Riba.

It isn't fair that older folks are getting more robot toys than the rest of us.