The dog robots could react differently according to smell catagories.
People who wear the same pair of socks for several consecutive days in Japan may soon be scared to take off their shoes at the entry of someone else's home or izakayas - because they may find themselves being embarrassed by a dog robot that makes dramatic reactions when it finds smelly feet.
In a recently released video introducing the new product, the fluffy robot dog nicknamed Hana-chan is shown posing according to categories of smell on a scale of 0 to 100: Wagging its tail and barking when detecting moderately malodorous feet to making a sudden hilarious move by keeling over when faced with particularly pungent toes.
According to Next Technology, the Japanese startup which developed and manufactured the robot, the 15-cm artificial mutt creature is equipped with an odor sensor in its nose, and is expected to spray air freshener when it encounters a foul aroma.
Kimika Tsuji, a staff member from the company, told AFP that the inspiration for the invention came from a man who was desperate to figure out whether he had an odor 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," Tsuji said, adding "that's why we developed this cute robot."
According to Tsuji, bodily odors are becoming more of an issue in Japan where it is a culturally important to remove shoes before entering indoor spaces. Strong body scent can even be considered as a form of harassment in public places across the country.
Mandom Corp., Japan's largest manufacturer of men's personal care products in 2016, even held several seminars teaching smell etiquette to employees from all walks of life, in a bid to address booming odor harassment and crackdown on grubby colleagues in the workplace.
The pocket-sized dog robot, which was developed to help promote self-awareness of body smell, has already started a pre-sale in July and will be fully rolled into market early next year, priced at roughly 100,000 yen (905 U.S. dollars).