Massage Chair Myth Busters – The More Motors the Better! Leave a comment

There is a massage chair myth that has been permeated through time about the number of motors. This myth claims that the more motors contained in the shiatsu massage chair, the better the massage chair. At the height of this myth, companies were claiming to have more and more motors in their massage chairs. The thought being that with more motors, the massage is greatly enhanced. Claims were made to have a massage chair with 6, 8 and even 18 motors. Of course, having more motors could enable more varied movements in the shiatsu massage chairs, but is this actually true?
This myth is going to be challenged in this article to reveal the real truth about the more motors the better the chair myth. First, one should examine the tradeoff of quantity versus quality. If a massage chair has 3 motors versus 18 motors, what is the quality level of the motors in the massage chair? Obviously, motors, not being cheap, mean that as the number of motors is increased, the cost of the chair must increase assuming the quality level is equal. However, as more motors are added, the lower priced motors (i.e. lower quality motors) will be used.
The motors used in a shiatsu massage chair must be allocated space within the chair. If more motors are used, then more mechanism must be installed around each motor to drive whatever massage function. More and more real estate in the massage chair is used to accommodate additional motors. Motors are fairly heavy, weighing 2 lbs to 5 lbs each. If the massage chair has 18 motors at 5 lbs each, that is 90 lbs just in motors. Adding additional motors increases the weight of the chair and takes up valuable real estate within the chair.
The real issue is does having more motors increase the quality of the massage? After all, this is the basis of the massage motor myth. Most shiatsu massage chairs, whether high end luxury models to even lower level models tend to use a 3 motor system for the back massage rollers. One motor drives the roller unit up and down the chair back. Two motors are mounted on the roller system with one motor to perform a kneading motion and the other motor to perform a tapping motion. Both motors can be run simultaneously to product a kneading/tapping massage.
Sometimes, 2 motors are used for the kneading by having them run the left and right side independently, but synchronized. The same can be done with the tapping. This can increase the number of motors to 5 in the roller system, but does the quality of massage increase? In our experience, we have not felt a noticeable difference in massage. Again, the tradeoff is to use cheaper motors since you need to have 2 rather than one or significantly increase the price, which puts the chair at a competitive disadvantage. So are more motors better?
If the motor does not create a new and unique massage, then what value does it add? Why have more motors and potentially more problems? The simpler the design, the higher the quality and the less problems down the road. Remember, each motor needs to have controls, software, wiring, etc. to integrate it into the overall massage chair. This drives complexity, increases the testing required to ensure quality and if cheaper motors are substituted, then reduces reliability. Do not buy into the myth that more motors the better for a shiatsu massage chair. Simple is always better!

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