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Bad breath? This robot girl will tell you straight

Two new robots have hit Japan, both designed to let you know that you're a little on the smelly side.

Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

We've all known people who, let's face it, have a bit of a pong, and not the cool video game kind. The trouble is that no one wants to be the impolite person who lets them know about it. Well, two companies in Japan have designed a pair of robots that do it for you.

The robots, designed by robot manufacturer CrazyLabo in collaboration with the Kitakyushu National College of Technology, are in the shape of a girl's head and a rather lumpy-looking dog, and they can detect the aromas emanating from your breath and your socks, respectively.

The girl, called "Kaori-chan" (which means perfume or fragrance), analyzes a person's breath when they exhale into her open mouth (ew). A commercially available odor sensor quantifies the components on the breath and give it a rating on a scale of one to four:

  • "It smells like citrus!"
  • "Yuck! You have bad breath!"
  • "No way! I can't stand it!"
  • "Emergency! There's an emergency taking place! That's beyond the limit of patience!"

The dog, Shuntaro-kun, works on the opposite end. Playing, for some reason, Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, he'll take a big whiff of a person's feet before once again evaluating the smell on a scale of one to four. Because Shuntaro-kun is a dog, he doesn't use words like Kaori-chan, so you have to pay attention to his body language:

  • Cuddling up to human
  • Barking
  • Growling and falling over
  • Passing out

The robots were taught to identify smells with the help of students from the Kitakyushu National College of Technology, who would wear unwashed socks and deliberately ate smelly foods, such as garlic and fermented soybeans.

If it sounds funny, it's because it's supposed to be. CrazyLabo President Kennosuke Tsutsumi decided to create the robots after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. He wanted to make something that would make people smile.

The two robots aren't commercially available, but Tsutsumi is considering taking them on tour.


(Source: Crave Australia via The Asahi Shimbun)