MIT Develops a Soft-Bristled Robotic Brush That Gently Untangles Hair Without Pain to the Scalp

Researchers at MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have developed RoboWig, a soft-bristled robotic brush that gently untangles hair without pain to the scalp.

To brush and manipulate the hair, the researchers added a soft-bristled sensorized brush to the robot arm, to allow forces during brushing to be measured. They combined this setup with something called a “closed-loop control system”, which takes feedback from an output and automatically performs an action without human intervention.

Embedded within the brush are sensors that determine, measure, and learn how much pressure to use in different situations in order to comb through a snag.

CSAIL’s robotic arm setup uses computer vision to study the complex nature of manipulating and brushing of hair fibers.

This device can be particularly helpful in the healthcare field, as nurses and caretakers spend a great deal of time assisting with the personal grooming of their patients.

With rapidly growing demands on health care systems, nurses typically spend 18 to 40 percent of their time performing direct patient care tasks, oftentimes for many patients and with little time to spare. Personal care robots that brush your hair could provide substantial help and relief.

The RoboWig was tested out on wigs of different textures, styles, and curls, with markers that determined the intensity of pain.

Initial tests preserved the human head – for now – and instead were done on a number of wigs of various hairstyles and types. The model provided insight into the behaviors of the combing, related to the number of entanglements, and how those could be efficiently and effectively brushed out by choosing appropriate brushing lengths.

via Boing Boing

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