Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How Do I Smell, Kaori-chan?

There’s a lot about Japan that I really like. Among the common elements are a slightly off-kilter (from my perspective) aesthetic and an unbridled enthusiasm for technology and gadgetry.

The former has fascinated me since the badly dubbed sci-fi films I watched on TV on Saturday afternoons. (Who were those tiny women in the rowboat singing to Mothra?) And I fondly remember listening to baseball broadcasts of the San Francisco Giants on my Panasonic transistor radio—my first-ever technology purchase.

Old habits die hard, and since acquiring a Roku box I’ve been catching up on Japanese sci-fi movies. Judging by some of them, the scene has gotten even weirder. Don’t take my word for it, go watch the disturbing imagery in Meatball Machine (2005) and get back to me.

Or check out the claustrophic and bloody Hellevator (2004), written and directed by Hiroki Yamaguchi who after this effort does not appear to have been allowed near a camera for about five years. In fairness, the guy who played the cannibal-rapist convict was awesome. [And the elevator operator chick was hot.—Ed.] [Yes. Yes she was.]

After my late-night sci-fi viewing, this news story seemed almost charmingly droll:
On 24 August, Kanagawa Prefectural Police picked up Joji Kondo for stealing three seats from women’s electric bicycles in a housing complex at around 4:00 in the morning. After searching Kondo’s home they uncovered a further 200 seats.

According to police he admitted to the crimes saying “I wanted to smell the lingering scent of a woman.” MSN News Japan reported the 35-year-old as saying “I like the texture of the leather and the smell it has, I would lick it and sniff it.”
Alright, then.


Meanwhile, the twin Japanese obsessions of olfactory technology and robotics have merged to produce a Sniff-Me Bot:
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.
I think I get it. Sort of.

UPDATE August 28, 2013
“Hey, wait a minute. Did that robot just fart?”

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