Feet with good hygiene will earn snuggles from the robotic pooches.
From time immemorial foot odor has plagued humankind. According to legend, Greek soldier Pheidippides ran 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians but died immediately after… I’m presuming from his own terrible foot odor.
But now we have the technology, we can make foot-odor-combating tools better, stronger and faster than they were before. One group on the forefront of this science is the National Institute of Technology Kitakyushu College (NITkit) and their affiliated company NextTechnology.
▼ This is NextTechnology’s original robot, Shuntaro, in 2015
Having already developed scent-detecting sensors to rate foot and mouth odors, they have now achieved what they feel is a marketable product in the form of Hana, the robot dog. Punningly named after the Japanese word for “nose,” Hana is a 15-centimeter long puppy that will smell your feet, so you don’t have to.
After detecting the scent emanating from your feet Hana will give one of three reactions: If there is no significant odor, then she will cuddle your feet. If there is a problematic scent she will begin to bark. Finally, if your feet are on the verge of becoming biohazardous Hana will simply faint and pass out.
The system was calibrated using feet that had worn the same socks for two days straight as a benchmark for a terrible smell.
At a trial demonstration, Hana was presented with the honorable feet of Kitakyushu mayor, Kenji Kitahashi. After giving a smell of the mayoral socks, Hana began snuggling and Mayor Kitahashi’s chances of re-election remained intact. He then declared Hana to be “a wonderful idea to blend robots into civic life.”
Wonderful ideas often come at a price, however, and Hana’s appears to be rather steep. It is estimated that the robot will cost between 100,000 and 200,000 yen (US$930 to $1,860) when it hits the market next spring.
▼ This is Hana in 2017
They don’t really mention what Hana can do beyond smelling peoples feet but I’m hoping it’s something for that price tag. NITkit and NextTechnology also hope to add a built-in deodorizing spray, but it is unclear if it will be included in time for the debut models.
I suppose you could use it to evaluate any scent from your breath to even having little Hana critique the amount of garlic you put in your pesto. Hana would have been an invaluable tool for our own research into the correlation between sock types and the stank they generate.
But this is yet another example of human jobs being replaced by machines. And as someone who used to smell people’s feet for nickels at the airport (I also rewarded with snuggles), it troubles me to see this noble profession also get taken over by robots.