Issue 160, July 2016
Emma the robot therapist hits the spot with athletes
​​​​​​Start-up founded by alumnus Albert Zhang and incubated by NTU unveils prototype robot in trials for sports rehabilitation

Meet Emma, unveiled on 18 July by a start-up incubated by Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), which has been treating Singapore’s national athletes, such as national basketballer and Mediacorp actor Chase Tan.

Short for Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, Emma is now treating patients at the Singapore Sports Hub, using acupoint therapy to relieve muscle strains and injuries. 

Developed by AiTreat, a start-up company founded by NTU graduate Albert Zhang (Class of 2010), Emma is undergoing user trials at Kin Teck Tong’s Sports Science and Chinese Medicine Clinic at the Kallang Wave Mall. 

Mr Zhang, the creator of Emma, said his creation, a robotic arm with a 3D-printed massage tip that runs on proprietary software, can resolve some of the challenges faced by sports therapy clinics, such as a shortage of trained therapists and a need to deliver high quality therapy consistently.

Emma, which has a user-friendly interface and recommended guidelines for various sports injuries, was designed by Mr Zhang based on his experience as a licensed TCM physician in Singapore for the past five years.

To ensure a consistent quality of therapy, Emma has sensors and diagnostic functions that will measure the progress of the patient and the exact stiffness of a particular muscle or tendon.

These detailed diagnostics are uploaded to the cloud where the progress of each patient can be analysed and generated into a performance report. For the first time in TCM treatment, patients can accurately measure their recovery progress using precise empirical data.

This is extremely valuable for athletes, as their injuries, treatment and recovery can now be measured and monitored by their physician and therapists. In addition, the treatment programmes can be adjusted according to the progress of the patients’ recovery.

© Nanyang Technological University Singapore