The mechanical massage chair debuted in the 1950s; a Japanese inventor is said to have assembled it out of scrap. But massage chairs have come a long way since then.
Today’s models might feature voice controls, light therapy, Bluetooth capabilities and AI-driven customization. Sophisticated internal mechanisms, powered by advanced software, can enable sessions that emulate a shiatsu or Swedish session.
And while massage chairs have typically dominated rooms with their hulking footprints, some newer models are taking aesthetics into consideration, looking more like decor and less than the command console of the Starship Enterprise.
Here are our top picks for smart massage chairs on the market.
Ogawa Master Drive AI
Artificial intelligence powers the massage on Ogawa’s top-end chair. Once you grip the “intelligence handle” on an armrest, Ogawa’s “Chair Doctor” technology analyzes your heart rate, senses blood-oxygen levels, reads your heart rate to analyze your stress levels and even sends “biofeedback information to sense your emotional state,” the company says. Inside the chair, a state-of-the-art microprocessor helps the mechanism learn and adapt to your physical needs, changing massage pressure, speed and motions. A large, tablet-like control panel offers easy access to chair controls and readouts on your physical condition.
Ogawa Master Drive AI is available for $12,999.
Human Touch Super Novo
Human Touch claims it created the first Alexa-enabled massage chair with the Super Novo. Ask its “Virtual Therapist” for “increased intensity” or “lower body massage,” and the chair will respond accordingly, adjusting treatments to your commands. Virtual Therapist can also store customized massages for anyone in your household; just answer a series of questions about your preferences, and the chair will keep those in mind next time you sign in. About that massage: Super Novo says its “bend and stretch” functionality provides “unprecedented leg and spine relief,” increasing blood flow to the vertebrae and discs and rejuvenating the lower back. Bonus: The Super Novo comes with a high-end Altec-Lansing sound system to amplify your relaxation playlist.
Human Touch Super Novo is available from $9,999.
Brookstone Mach IX
For even deeper relaxation, Brookstone’s plush, sleek Mach IX comes with built-in chromotherapy lighting, a proven mood-enhancer popular in high-end massage chairs. The Mach IX’s also Alexa-compatible and boasts powerful Bluetooth speakers and a wireless charging spot for your phone or device. Powered by a contoured massage mechanism, the chair provides a thorough, full-body deep-tissue massage. For something close to an out-of-body experience, the chair reclines into what Brookstone calls a ”zero-gravity” position in which the weight of your back is supported by a backrest. The Mach IX’s touchscreen display gives you 18 programmed massages, and the company claims its 4D Vario Motion rollers emulate the feeling of human hands.
Brookstone Mach IX is available from $9,999.
As comfortable as they are, most massage chairs look like one-person spacecrafts. Nouhaus’s Classic looks as good as it feels—it even won a Red Dot international design award for “Incomparable Functionality and Aesthetic.” Along with actual vibrations, the chair gives Mid-Century Modern vibes for its half-dome look, “egg”-inspired shapes, and compact size. Its technology includes embedded Bluetooth speakers with immersive sound, controls for percussive, rolling or circular massage motions, and rollers that promise “massage from shoulders to buttocks with 42 deep-pressure kneads per minute.” And as a bonus, Nouhaus tosses in a throw pillow with every order.
Nouhaus Classic Massage Chair with Ottoman is available for $3,278.
Infinity Circadian Syner-D
Infinity touts its TrueFit body-scanning technology as a key feature of the Circadian Syner-D; embedded software allows the chair to pinpoint your size and shape, and tailor a massage to suit. While many chairs feature a single massage mechanism, the Circadian has two, programmed to work together for therapeutic relief to the back and gluteal region. If you don’t feel like lifting a finger, voice control lets you choose your massage; otherwise, the Circadian’s tablet gives you easy access to features, massage techniques and body parts that require attention. Instead of mood-altering lights, this chair provides sound therapy, with a menu of nature-inspired soundscapes to accompany your next virtual rubdown.
Infinity Circadian Syner-D is available for $14,999.