Japan's Panasonic on Thursday unveiled a robot that can scans a client's head using 3D technology, then shampoos their hair and massages the scalp with its rubbery "fingers".
The prototype machine was developed to help thinly-stretched staff at healthcare facilities, common problem in rapidly-ageing Japan, said the electronics maker.
In a three-minute media demonstration, the automated hair salon, which resembles a dentist's chair with a wash basin, moved a pair of "arms" with 16 finger-like massage nobs while squirting shampoo and water.
"With 16 fingers, the robot washes hair and rinses the shampoo bubbles with the dexterity of human fingers," the company said in a statement.
"The robot's two arms scan the head three dimensionally as they move and measure and remember the head shape to apply just the right amount of pressure to each person when shampooing and massaging."
The machine, which will hit stores in a few years, was unveiled at a Tokyo fair of welfare goods that showed off 20,000 products, including a wheelchair that can dock into a three-wheeled electric motorbike and automobiles designed for disabled people.
Panasonic also displayed a prototype electric bed that turns into a wheelchair.
(c) 2010 AFP