Body odor is a very serious issue, so serious in fact that there is actually a market for high-tech devices that alert users if they start to stink.
The problem with body odor is that you can't really smell it on yourself, and in an exceptionally polite society like Japan's that can put people in uncomfortable situations.
Carrying a bottle of deodorant on you at all times during the summer is quite common in Japan, but putting on too much of that stuff too often can irritate the skin or stain clothing, so it's not exactly a fool-proof solution.
If only we had a way of knowing when we smell, and how bad... Thankfully, Japanese wellness device maker Tanita just unveiled its newest creation, a handheld smell checker that analyzes body odor and ranks its intensity on a scale of 1 to 10.
Called the ES-100, Tanita's smell-sensing device was inspired by the company's range of alcohol breath analyzers. They basically adapted their technology to check for odor-producing particulate matter instead of alcohol and the ES-100 was born.
This thing is super-easy to use. Just flip it open and point the built-in sensor toward the problematic areas of your body. It reportedly takes about 10 seconds for the handheld device to collect and analyze data, after which it will display a numerical result on its small LED display.
0 means you don't smell, 1 to 4 are acceptable levels of body odor, 5 to 9 should really have you concerned, and I assume a 10 means you're a walking biohazard.
Interestingly, the Tanita ES-100 doesn't work just for naturally occurring body odor, but also for cologne. So if you feel that too much cologne is just as bad as the musky smell of perspiration, you can use the handheld device to check if you've overdone it with the perfume.
Tanita said that it expects the ES-100 smell checker to be really popular with salary men in their 40s and 50s, the ages at which statistics show men start to be more concerned about their potential bad body odor.
However, the Japanese company adds that the device could be very useful for other categories as well, like people who want to make sure body odor doesn't ruin their date, or those who work in close proximity to other people.
The ES-100 was commercially launched on July 1st, with pricing being left up to retailers.
Interestingly, this is not the first Japanese high-tech device dedicated to fighting body odor. Last year, NextTechnology unveiled Hana-chan, a toy robot that designed to "faint" if it detected foul body odor, and Konica Minolta launched a device that monitored body odor and connected to a smartphone to alert users when they started to stink.