TOKYO • Do your feet smell bad? Just a little or absolutely awful?
If you dare not ask a friend, one Japanese start-up might have the answer with a new robot dog that will sniff your feet and give you a pitilessly honest verdict - even fainting if the stink is especially strong.
Malodorous feet can be socially awkward in Japan where shoes are removed at the entrance to every home.
Hana-chan - a play on the Japanese word for nose and a common girl's nickname - is a helpful little robot mutt which will bark if it detects moderately whiffy toes, and keel over if the pong is particularly pungent.
The 15cm-long dog, equipped with an odour detection sensor for a nose, also sprays air freshener to resolve the situation if the aroma is unbearable.
Its manufacturer Next Technology created the robot in response to a request from a man desperate to know if he had a problem.
"He told us his daughter had said his feet were smelly... But he didn't want to know how bad the odour was because he would feel hurt," Next Technology employee Kimika Tsuji said. "That's why we developed this cute robot."
The employee said smells are becoming more of an issue in Japan, a place where subjecting others to your smelly body can even be considered harassment.
In July, Japanese tech company Konica Minolta began pre-sales of a pocket-sized device that allows people to self-test three categories of smell on a scale from 0 to 100.
Next Technology plans to start selling the robot dog early next year, with a price tag of more than 100,000 yen (S$1,244).