A Long Beach company has unveiled an “iChair” – a massage seat that can be programmed using iPads, iPods or iPhones.

Why do you need an i-device to control a massage chair? According to the maker, it’s simpler than a remote, which would require finding the settings and changing them. If you use the app, you can simply touch an image of a body on, for example, the lower back, and the chair takes it from there.

Human Touch launched the product, officially named the AcuTouch 9500, at last week’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The apps are free downloads and communicate to the chair via Bluetooth. The company will sell the chairs to individual consumers, and also hopes to get them into gyms and hotels.

“The chair brings innovation, personalization and excitement,” said Andrew Cohen, Human Touch president.

Added David Potter, vice president of design: “You can take the apps with you for other machines. We’d like to see people choose hotels because they have our chair.”

They expect to break even on the chair within three months. It cost more than $1 million to develop, and it retails for about $5,000 online and at specialized furniture and electronic stores.

Not everyone’s a soft touch. Les Sweeney, president of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, an organization for massage therapists in Golden, Colo., said the chair may be great, but not as great as a real human touch.

“Our hope is that people recognize that there’s no substitute for the hand of a professional,” Sweeney said.

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