As regular readers may recall, despite being a big hairy beast of an Englishman, this writer has kind of a soft spot for head spa treatments. Although I used to abhor the very thought of entering a salon and allowing a stranger to wash and massage my scalp while being surrounded by guys with floppy fringes and women having their hair dyed orange, I have become such a fan of Japanese head spas since my wife first dragged me along to try one that I now make a point of getting one every month without fail. It probably helps that it’s usually a pretty girl who’s cradling my lumpy Shrek head and running her fingernails through my hair, but it’s nothing short of bliss.
So when I caught sight of the new Mondaile Head Spa iD3 headset from Breo I was genuinely intrigued. It certainly looked futuristic enough to have the potential, but surely a pile of plastic and wires couldn’t really come close to my living, breathing masseuse’s skilled fingertips? The tech lovers over at Japan’s Web R25 put the unit through its paces and proclaimed it “a must” for gadget lovers, but judging from the reactions of at least one everyday user, the device is not without its quirks.
Reminiscent of Sony Computer Entertainment’s forehead-assaulting 3-D personal display, the Mondaile Head Spa boasts an array of scalp-pleasing features that mimic a hair salon head spa treatment and are intended to relieve daily stress and tension. As well as being fully adjustable, the unit boasts heat pads, vibration and air-pressure “massage” functions with four strength settings, and even headphones that pipe in soothing music – all of which can be controlled via an included remote control.
With its massage function activated, air-filled cushions that surround the wearer’s head gently inflate. Using rhythmic movements akin to those found in automatic massage chairs, the unit squeezes and presses down on the scalp, temples and even the upper neck area, while the vibration function is strong enough to send tremors all the way down the neck to ease tired muscles. Throw in that heat function and you’ve got the closest thing to a genuine head massage. Well, on paper at least.
But all that technology doesn’t come cheap! The unit currently retails for a hefty 29,800 yen (US$318), meaning that you may have to skip a few real head spa treatments before you’re able to pick one up and enjoy the sensation 24/7, shutting out the real world and melting into your sofa or armchair like a big pile of well-massaged goo.
Although admitting that the black visor attached to the front of the unit limits the wearer’s field of vision to the point that watching television or doing simple household chores becomes impossible, the Web R25 team note that the completely battery-operated unit allows for full relaxation without pesky wires to become tangled up in or make lying down during your head spa uncomfortable. All very impressive so far!
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But what do real, everyday folk have to say about the unit? After a quick scour of YouTube, we found the following video of a young girl trying the headset out for herself. Is it all “Mmmn” and “Ahhh”, or are we stepping closer to “Ouch” and “Aaargh!” territory here?
Let’s take a look:
It starts off well enough and there are plenty of smiles to be seen and giggles to be heard, but beneath those nervous sounds our young friend here is clearly not having the most relaxing experience. I for one have never cringed and shouted ”Ouch! That feels horrible!” during any of the head spas I’ve received up until now anyway. The technology may not quite there yet, but I’m still itching to give this little gadget a go and find out for myself nevertheless.
Source/model image: R25