Robotic dog, girl evaluate smelly breath, stinky feet

May 07, 2013

By TOMOMI ABE/ Staff Writer

The latest advancement in robotics are two automatons designed to bluntly inform you that it's time to brush your teeth or change your socks.

Robot maker CrazyLabo and the Kitakyushu National College of Technology, both in Fukuoka Prefecture, have developed a female humanoid and a dog robot that sniff a person's breath and feet and use snarky remarks and exaggerated reactions to encourage offenders to do something about their breath and body odor.

The female robot, Kaori-chan, has brown hair and blue eyes. When a person breathes in her face, she analyzes and quantifies components in their breath, and evaluates the smell on a scale of one to four.

If their breath smells good, Kaori-chan says, “It smells like citrus!”

The stinkier the breath, the harsher are Kaori-chan's remarks, ranging from, “Yuck! You have bad breath!” to “No way! I can't stand it!” When Kaori-chan judges someone's breath is in the worst category she shouts, “Emergency! There's an emergency taking place! That’s beyond the limit of patience!”

The dog robot, Shuntaro-kun, can assess the smell of a person's feet. With Beethoven’s "Symphony No. 5" as background music, Shuntaro-kun sniffs the user's feet and bobs his head and nestles up next to the person or barks or falls down and growls, according to the level of the odor. If Shuntaro-kun passes out, you know you really have smelly feet.

To evaluate the odors, CrazyLabo draws on a commercially available odor sensor that can monitor and quantify various airborne odorous components.

Shuntaro-kun can identify the type of the odor and assess its strength. He quantifies them and sends the data to an embedded computer. Kaori-chan can also quantify the strength of two odor components to judge levels of smell.

The Great East Japan Earthquake, which struck the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011, gave CrazyLabo President Kennosuke Tsutsumi the idea of making a robot that can make people laugh.

Tsutsumi, 47, is from Fukuoka Prefecture, far from the disaster-hit region, but he had repeatedly visited the Tohoku region on business and felt he had to do something for the region.

“I was left speechless,” Tsutsumi said after viewing the post-quake wreckage as he drove across northeastern Japan two months after the disaster.

His experience inspired him to come up with something to make people smile again. With his family members repeatedly complaining about his bad breath and smelly feet, Tsutsumi came up with Kaori-chan and Shuntaro-kun after meeting with Takashi Takimoto, a mechanical engineering associate professor at the Kitakyushu National College of Technology.

Takimoto, 32, and his students created computer programs and collected samples of odors to develop the two robots. Ten male students repeatedly measured levels of odors using socks that they had worn for two days. They also ate various foods with characteristic smells, such as garlic and natto (fermented soybeans).

After spending about three months working on the project, they completed the two androids in February. CrazyLabo is considering visiting the Tohoku region with them, as well as leasing and showing them to the public.

The company is currently developing a new robot whose nose grows longer like Pinocchio when people tell lies. According to CrazyLabo, the new android monitors their brain waves to detect a lie.

“I want to continue to produce things that make people laugh and create a good atmosphere,” Tsutsumi said.

By TOMOMI ABE/ Staff Writer
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CrazyLabo President Kennosuke Tsutsumi, right, and Takashi Takimoto, associate professor at the Kitakyushu National College of Technology, show off their foot-sniffing dog robot on April 2. (Tomomi Abe)

CrazyLabo President Kennosuke Tsutsumi, right, and Takashi Takimoto, associate professor at the Kitakyushu National College of Technology, show off their foot-sniffing dog robot on April 2. (Tomomi Abe)

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  • CrazyLabo President Kennosuke Tsutsumi, right, and Takashi Takimoto, associate professor at the Kitakyushu National College of Technology, show off their foot-sniffing dog robot on April 2. (Tomomi Abe)
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