Japanese company develops self-smell-checking device

Summers in Japan are awesome. Between the fireworks festivals, all-you-can-drink beer gardens, and Pikachu Outbreaks, there’s hardly a dull moment.

There are, however, quite a few smelly ones. Japan is a nation that’s humid in summer and crowded all year long, which means that you’re likely to be in close proximity to profusely perspiring people not just at the exciting events listed above, but also in more mundane moments such as riding the train to work or waiting in line at the convenience store to buy your bottle of clear non-alcoholic beer.

Being an exceptionally polite society, Japan frowns on carrying a bottle of deodorant in your pocket and spritzing stinky strangers. Self-smell-care can be difficult, though, because being in such close proximity to one’s own odor can make it hard to detect. That’s where wellness device maker Tanita comes into the picture.

Tanita has just unveiled its newest product, called the ES-100. That techno-sounding alphanumeric name refers to a handheld smell checker that takes the guesswork out of whether the user reeks or not, measuring the intensity of their body odor on an 11-stage scale from 0 to 10.

The product was developed as an extension of Tanita’s existing work in producing alcohol breath analyzers. Instead of scanning for alcohol, though, the ES-100 checks for smell-producing particulate matter. To use it, simply power it on, extend the sensor, and point it towards whatever part of your body might be radiating something more than charisma. The process takes about 10 seconds, after which you’ll get the numeric result.

Oh, and don’t fear if you’re of the mindset that someone who’s covered in cologne is just as olfactory offensive as someone who’s slathered in sweat. Tanita says that since the ES-100 measures the intensity of aroma emanating from a person’s body, it’s equally as effective in alerting users if they’ve gone too heavy on applied fragrances.

The company says it expects the primary market to be salarymen in their 40s and 50s, the age group in which it claims men start becoming especially concerned with their potential body odor. The developers don’t just recommend the ES-100 for office environments, though, but also for men who want to make sure they smell nice before going out on a date or to some other function where they expect to be in close proximity to other people.

The smell checker goes on sale July 1 (with pricing being left up to individual retailers), which is soon enough to hopefully make Japan’s crowded trains smell a little better through mid and late summer.

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