Hay fever bots warn public about pollen

Japan rolls out 500 robots that detect levels of pollen in the air so allergy sufferers can gauge the threat when headed outside.

Weather News pollen chart
A chart on Weather News' site details the pollen threat around Japan, with a picture of the round robot that can help detect it. Weather News

Allergies are probably the most obvious way nature tells you it doesn't want you around. I know this love/hate relationship very well because it's spring and I've been sneezing in fits. What I don't always know, however, is how much nature hates me and just when it'll show it.

Fortunately, there are robots to help you with just that--if you live in Japan, that is.

Blue pollen bot
This pollen bot is blue, which means the pollen level is on the lower side. Weather News

According to NTDT TV, Weather News, a Japanese weather information company, has produced 500 globe-shaped robots that change color depending on the amount of allergy-causing pollen in the air. These fourth-generation pollen-detecting bots are smaller than previous iterations, according to the company.

The robots can detect different levels of pollen and put them on a scale from 1 to 5 via different colors. The robots actually look more like big fluorescent lights. Actually, I'm not why sure they're called robots; they don't even look cute.

Nonetheless, the robots have been installed across Japan. Apart from telling the owner and people around about the pollen threat levels, the robots also collect data on temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure and transmit it to Weather News, which then combines and releases it to the public via the Internet.

This helps allergy sufferers decide when they should stay inside and when and it's safe to go out. Pollen watchers can also sign up for a service that sends pollen conditions to their cell phone every morning.

NTDT TV notes that Japan, and especially Tokyo, is a place where allergies are a big problem because of the ubiquity of cedar trees. These trees can be found everywhere in the country, and on nice days, pollen can even be seen with the naked eye like a cloud hovering above the forest.

I hope someday we can find these robots in the U.S. In the meantime, I guess I will continue to have to take pills while loving nature.

CNET's Takayuki Sakurai contributed to this report.

About the author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

 

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