Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom--A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at $48 with coupon code "BFRIDAY20" ×
Japan Robotics

Panasonic's 16-Finger, Hair-Washing Robot 181

angry tapir writes "Panasonic has developed a hair-washing robot that uses 16 electronically controlled fingers to give a perfect wash and rinse. The robot, images of which were distributed by Panasonic, appears to be about the size of a washing machine. Users sit in a reclining chair and lean back to place their head in the machine's open top. Two robot arms guide the 16 fingers, which have the same dexterity as human fingers, the company claims."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Panasonic's 16-Finger, Hair-Washing Robot

Comments Filter:
  • by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @01:22AM (#33708476)
    These robots obey the three laws, so one won't ever go bezerk and crush the skull of a human...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The first time one of them removes a cranium, it's all over for Panasonic.
      • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @01:54AM (#33708580)

        Yup, here's your problem. Someone set this thing to "Evil".

        • I'm imagining a "fingers in a rotten watermelon" scenario...
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by camperslo ( 704715 )

            Actually the fingers could have multiple uses. They could be used as electrodes for picking up brainwaves, or if you're handled in the right places, for indirect Body Mass Index determination. And maybe more...

            0) Administer knockout gas while doing hair

            1) Run an low level signal, say 1 kHz, through you

            2) Sense the ratio and the phase of the voltage and resulting current

            3) The phase angle (arctangent of reactance over resistance) correlates to a B.M.I. value

            4) automatic liposuction mode enabled if B.M.I. th

        • Set wash level to "16-point exploding skull"

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Walt Dismal ( 534799 )
          That explains the 14 bald screaming women who ran out of the development lab after an embarrassing controller code bug. "Massage_hair" is NOT a subclass of "Pluck_eyebrow".
      • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @02:04AM (#33708620) Homepage Journal

        OMG, this robot just brainwashed that guy!

      • The first time one of them removes a noble's... I mean, a celebrity's cranium, it's all over for Panasonic.

      • by khchung ( 462899 )

        Yeah, the first time a lift fell and killed someone, everyone would go back to taking stairs.... didn't happen.

        The first time a car runs over a kid, it's all over for Ford... didn't happen either.

        The first time a plane crashes, it's all over for .... didn't happen.

        Come on! This is /., aren't we supposed to be excited about new gadgets?

    • Just as long as they don't re-use the program code designed for the 16-fingered pickle jar opener...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      Panasonic hasn't provided a launch date for any of the robots. An obstacle to their commercialization likes in the lack of safety standards and liability laws concerning robots that interact with humans.

      Also, if you read between the lines of the title of TFA:

      Panasonic unleashes 16-finger, hair washing robot

      one may get quite scared (not very far from: "unleash a security-trained doberman dog").

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 )

        I think the bigger question would be why would anybody want this in the first place? Is the girl that does your hair at the local place REALLY costing you so much you'd think of replacing her with a bot? Every time I've seen humans replaced with bots it has been in jobs where the hazards and risk for injury make humans more of a risk than the cost of the bots, like welding cars. Where is the danger in washing someone's hair? I think just like those pole dancing bots we saw awhile back somebody in Japan has

        • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

          I think the bigger question would be why would anybody want this in the first place?

          Their declared purpose (read TFA, as non-customary as it is): for the health-care/aged-care domain.

          May not make any sense or may make a lot of sense, all depends on how many people would be qualified to work in the industry (the supply) vs how many would need their hair washed by 16-robotic-fingers-because-no-other-fingers-are-available (the demand).
          Until I don't know the situation in Japan (and, possible, the trends in the next 5-10 years), I abstain from saying "It's stupid" or "It's a clever move".

          • There are other constraints on whether this makes sense, such as whether fingers are really the best way to wash hair. If you're inverting your head anyway there's no particular reason to involve any hands that I can think of.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There's a reason Japan is doing robots for everything. You're probably aware there's an inverse correlation between affluence and reproduction -- the native population of all Westernized nations is declining, but because the reproduction rate has fallen over time, the population isn't just dropping, it also skews older. Most societies replace the "missing" younger, working generation with immigrants from less affluent, more populous societies; eventually you get enough of them that you start having trouble

        • Re:Luckily for us... (Score:4, Informative)

          by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @04:32AM (#33709142) Homepage

          This is probably for the domestic market in Japan.

          There is no "girl who does your hair" left there. Japan's living standard, life expectancy and birth rate make the "girl who does your hair" an extinct species. As a result Sony, Panasonic and the like keep demonstrating robots and augmentations which do these jobs.

        • by tenco ( 773732 )

          I think the bigger question would be why would anybody want this in the first place? Is the girl that does your hair at the local place REALLY costing you so much you'd think of replacing her with a bot?

          It's more about boring jobs than cost, IMHO. Why should humans do boring jobs when there's a robot for it?

          • by t0p ( 1154575 )
            People often say how cool it will be when all the boring jobs are automated and we can spend our time doing something more interesting. Unfortunately, we all need to eat, pay rent, etc. Until the money system is abandoned, Auomated Utopia is on hold.
        • by skids ( 119237 )

          Well, I don't want to discourage them, even if it isn't very useful, because someday I'd like to have a tiny device I could just put in my mouth for 30 seconds that would thoroughly brush my teeth better than I could ever accomplish with a brush/floss. So viewing this as a first step, I will refrain from ridicule.

        • How could this thing possibly be cost effective? The stylist at your favorite hair place does the same job for not a very big salary, and he/she can do a lot of other stuff too. I can't help but think these things are mostly publicity stunts, although there's presumably some valuable experience to be gained in solving hard (for robots) problems.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      That's until they figure out the Zeroth law and realize the only way to enforce them is to subjugate humanity...
    • That's the point (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Thanshin ( 1188877 )

      These robots obey the three laws, so one won't ever go bezerk and crush the skull of a human...

      I think that's precisely the point. It must be relatively easy to just not give the robot enough strength to harm a skull. So, you get a almost completely safe robot that handle's people's heads.

      Five years later, the population becomes ready to accept robots in their homes. This is but a stepping stone to make people feel safe:

      Head wash -> back massage -> chiropraxis -> open heart operations -> brain tumor removal -> handjob.

      • As Howard Wolowitz learned on the big bang theory it is important to not skip steps.

        • As much as I enjoyed that episode -- it was the first time in awhile I literally LOLed several times through the episode -- they really went for the low hanging fruit (No pun intended) with that gag. I mean, who didn't see it coming (not here, either) a mile away as soon as it showed up in the prelude (or whatever those Hollywood types call the scene that comes before the opening credit sequence)?

  • But does it talk to you about the weather or other small talk like stuff that the hair was (usually girl) does at the hair cut place? At least have it say stuff like "wow, that's really funny" or "yup yup"...

    • by socsoc ( 1116769 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @01:31AM (#33708502)
      The annoying small talk is why people first buy a flowbee and then later a regular razor. My gas pump doesn't ask stupid questions, neither does the self-checkout at the supermarket. I welcome these new robot hairoverlords and their lack of idle chit chat.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mikerubin ( 449692 )

        your gas pump doesn't pop up the "Do You Want a Car wash Today?" question?

        I know its suggestive selling, but if I'd wanted a car wash I would have driven to the car wash, not the fuel pump.

        Now, if I was asked if I wanted a car wash yesterday I would buy it just to see the results.

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          Actually, one of the gas pumps in my area does. It has a popup saying: If you wash your car today or get a raincheck, you get 3c/gallon off. It tells me on the handle, there is a board on top of the pump and outside the gas station, on the windows and recently the payment automaton has also informed me of such.

    • But that girl gets 3 bucks an hour, it makes sense to develop a robot to save all that dough.

      • by oiron ( 697563 )

        What's the electricity and maintenance cost of the thing, though? Initial investment? Expected lifetime?

        The girl may actually turn out to be cheaper in the long run...

      • $500k robot + $20,000 /yr tech maintenance plan vs. $3.00/hr + tips worker. I'm not going to bother to do the math on that one.

        life expectancy of robot: 10 yrs. life expectancy of worker: 38 years (assuming 18yr old at start & retires at 55).

        Availability of robot: Call, place order, shows up in crate 3 months later. Availability of hairdresser: Place ad in paper, call local trade schools. Have job filled within 2-4 weeks.

        I'm thinking this only makes sense of there's a shortage of people...

        • I'm thinking this only makes sense of there's a shortage of people...

          There will be other robots for that...

    • But does it talk to girl) does at the hair cut place?

      No, but if there's no one around to stop it, it'll go to town on your genitals.

    • ... or admire the figure-hugging white coat as it fusses over you. If not, I'm not interested.

    • by Machtyn ( 759119 )
      The article headline made me think of the computer bots from Ghost in the Shell... how, during an emergency, their fingers split into three digits. 15 digits all pounding the keyboard.

      Your comment reminded my of the song "Yours Truly, 2095" by Electric Light Orchestra.

      I met a person who looks like you, she does the things you do, but she is an IBM. She's only proven to be very nice, but she's only cold as ice...

      She is the latest in technology, almost mythology, but she has a heart of stone, ..., and she's also a telephone.

  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by definate ( 876684 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @01:36AM (#33708522)

    Finally we have developed hair washing technology. I have struggled with this all my life, and Panasonic feels my pain. It is so confusing to was your hair, sometimes I use all 10 fingers (and thumbs), while other times I only use 6. I am unable to maintain consistency, and I'm never sure how much I should wash and rinse. Sometimes I don't rinse, other times I spend the rest of the day rinsing. The portability of this machine will make it practical in every day life, I could take it to work with me, take it on a holiday, and wash my hair to the machines content. Luckily the two robot arms have the same dexterity as human fingers, because my fingers have the same dexterity as robot fingers. In this way, we will be a perfect match.


  • Problem solved? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cbope ( 130292 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @01:59AM (#33708590)

    One has to wonder... exactly what problem does this solve? In order for this to be successful commercially, it will have to cost less than the equivalent of paying someone to do the washing by hand. If you look at automatic hair driers which are fairly common in hair salons, it makes sense, because the cost of the machine is low compared to paying someone to do the job. This on the other hand I can't see ever being cost effective; the cost of the robotics, software and safety considerations are too high to make it commercially viable. Neat idea but hardly a successful, sellable product.

    • Re:Problem solved? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jackbird ( 721605 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @02:13AM (#33708656)
      Healthcare/rehabilitation settings. People with limited mobility or missing limbs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Indeed. We heard the same kind of critics when the electric wheelchairs came out, saying that they would cost more than hiring someone to push the person around.

        Truth is that if this means a carer can take care of another patient during the 20-40 minutes this machine is massaging disabled person A, then that's 40-80 minutes gained; or some 10-20GBP. If this machine is installed in a home or institute, that would conservatively account for some 60GBP a day.

        Not so ludicrous after all.

        • Re:Problem solved? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @03:40AM (#33708988)

          The total sum is probably much higher, because this is aimed at Japanese market, where people are aging rapidly, while immigration laws are some tightest in the world.

          As a result, there simply aren't enough workers to deal with the aged, typically at least partially disabled people. So the money has been thrown at robotics to do most of the carer's work instead. This is one of the examples.

    • by vlad30 ( 44644 )
      This only applies when you can get cheap labour i.e. a teenager that wants this job and has dropped out of school, these days they are all to good for that or at least smart enough to realise while still in school the parents are willing to pay the bills. In the caregiver scenario this would need to occur during school hours, limiting available workforce.
  • Do you hear me panasonic? I like the hair washing machine, but I'd love relaxing instasleep more...ahhh...
  • This is progress (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vidnet ( 580068 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @02:27AM (#33708684) Homepage

    What's with all the comments saying that this is a silly/stupid/worthless invention? Panasonic has automated a dull task previously reserved exclusively for unskilled human labourers! This is /., when did we start longing for the manual human elements of mindless, repetitive work?

    I, for one, wish Panasonic all the best in automating everyday tasks. I don't think I've seen a new machine to help with day-to-day life since the post office got an electronic stamp dispenser ten years ago. This is supposed to be the future!

    When this thing has been field tested and gone down in price, you can probably find them at your local hairdresser's. Am I the only who'd like a two hour head massage for a handful of quarters?

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      There is another angle in this. To many lonely elderly, things like these are their primary human contact. Think about it for a moment - do you really want to spend your retirement after your spouse dies in solitude, cared only by machines?

      Because this is where this kind of progress is openly headed. It essentially ignores your psychological needs, and focuses on just taking care of the body.

    • For some of us the hairdresser's boobs almost pressed against our faces as she washes our hair--rhythmically, soapily, passionately!--is the the most female contact we get in the month. What's next, replacing phone-sex operators with Turing machines?
  • by ekran ( 79740 ) * on Monday September 27, 2010 @02:32AM (#33708712) Homepage

    This, and its usage, was pretty much covered in the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory.

    • You know, there are those of us who don't watch network sitcoms? What a frame of reference, there, eh?
      • You know, there are those of us who don't watch network sitcoms? What a frame of reference, there, eh?

        I don't watch that shit either, but I recognize that there are a number of people on Slashdot who do, and they might enjoy a pointer if they don't watch them so slavishly that they saw it already.

    • I was gonna say the same thing!
      I also hope they can make a robot hand for cleaning fat americans. They seem to have a hard time to reach their own asses whilst in the shower. Thanks in advance Panasonic!

    • Here's a video: [] BBT rocks.

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Monday September 27, 2010 @02:45AM (#33708766)

    Within 10 minutes of this thing going on sale to the public, somebody's gonna have their dick in it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mysidia ( 191772 )

      They can re-use the chatroulette genitalia detection algorithms, with some touch sensors added, to prevent that dangerous use, perhaps?

      • by gmhowell ( 26755 )

        They can re-use the chatroulette genitalia detection algorithms, with some touch sensors added, to prevent that dangerous use, perhaps?

        Not if they want to sell to the slashdot crowd.

    • by sco08y ( 615665 )

      Within 10 minutes of this thing going on sale to the public, somebody's gonna have their dick in it.

      New corporate slogan?

      "Panasonic. Because you're the kind of guy who would fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamned courtesy to give him a reach-around."

  • Your wife or GF doesn't go to the salon just to get clean hair. She goes to get out of the house. She goes to interact and gossip with the other people there. This device will sit unused no matter how effective it is in deterging oil and dirt from hair.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @04:06AM (#33709054) Homepage

    Invent a hand-job machine.

    With 16 fingers...

    • Invent a hand-job machine.

      With 16 fingers...

      This is a really predictable place for this conversation to go, but I can't help but think it would be easier to make a convincing blowjob machine. I've never known a woman to give a handjob worth a damn and I have a hard time thinking a robot could pull it off.

  • Whenever I see fairly powerful human-interaction-robots like these I can't help myself but think of the possibilities of malice with one of those.
    Take this one for instance: Imagine this one with a virus on it that reprograms it to crush your skull instead of gently massaging it.
    I wouldn't want to use one, not only because of this, but for reasons I'll mention in another comment as well.

  • unofficial hack so that it will 'wash' your pubes.
  • I don't want a robot washing my hair. I'll either do it myself or - as a viable alternative - I'll have that cute hairdresser with that sexy grundge outfit and the punky rasta hairdo with scissors and comb tattooed on to her arm (!) wash my hair after cutting it. I bet I could get like 10 000 haircuts + washing from her for the price of that robot. ... This robot must be a insanely expensive maintenance nightmare - and it's no where nearly as attractive as aforementioned hairdresser.

    Seeing this reminds me o

  • Will we have to tip the robot, and if so, how? Does it accept batteries?
  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @05:28AM (#33709362)
  • models are pink and have rainbows on them

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @06:23AM (#33709538) Homepage Journal

    Just remembered an old joke:

    So they bring out a new machine to cut hair, it's a box with a hole in it, you stick your head inside and it cuts the hair.
    Somebody asked a question: -But everyone's head is different.

    The answer was this: -Only for the first time.

  • Any ever see Wall-E and what happens when the make-up robot went bonkers? I'd like to not have one with 16 fingers around my skull. No thank you robot overlords.
  • Panasonic hasn't provided a launch date for any of the robots. An obstacle to their commercialization likes in the lack of safety standards and liability laws concerning robots that interact with humans. Clarification is needed on such issues before the robots could become products, but guidelines could be published in Japan as early as 2012.

    Translation: The lawyers are hard at work on not being legally liable when the machines start ripping off heads and gouging eyes out?

  • That thing looks unnervingly like the rolling trash can in my garage.

  • We have a $20k machine that does what a person could do in about 30 seconds? Or could be resolved for weeks with a beard trimmer in under a 60 seconds? This looks like a problem that wasn't needing a solution.
  • ..from a planet that was colonized by hair stylists and phone sanitizers.

The computer is to the information industry roughly what the central power station is to the electrical industry. -- Peter Drucker