Sat, Sep 09, 2017 - Page 12 News List

New Japanese robot dog will faint at smelly feet

AFP, TOKYO

A robot dog named “Hana-chan,” developed by Japanese start-up Next Technology, smells feet to detect odor yesterday in Kitakyushu, Japan.

Photo: AFP / Next Technology

Do your feet smell bad? Just a little or absolutely awful? If you do not dare to ask a friend, one Japanese start-up might have the answer with a robot dog that will sniff your feet and give you a pitilessly honest verdict — even fainting if the stink is especially strong.

Malodorous feet can be socially awkward in Japan where shoes are removed at the entrance to every home.

Hana-chan — a play on the Japanese word for nose and a common girl’s nickname — is a helpful little robot mutt who will bark if she detects moderately stinky toes, but will keel over if the pong is particularly pungent.

The 15cm dog, equipped with an odor detection sensor for a nose, also sprays air freshener to resolve the situation if the aroma is unbearable.

Manufacturer Next Technology created the robot in response to a request from a man who was desperate to know if he had a problem.

“He told us his daughter had said his feet were smelly ... but he didn’t want to know how bad the odor was because he would feel hurt,” employee Kimika Tsuji said. “That’s why we developed this cute robot.”

Tsuji said smells are becoming more of an issue in Japan, a place where subjecting others to your honking body can even be considered harassment.

In July, Konica Minolta, a Japanese tech company, began pre-sales of a pocket-sized device that allows people to self-test three categories of smell on a scale from 0 to 100.

Next Technology plans to start selling the robot dog early next year, with a price tag of more than ¥100,000 (US$931).

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