Photo via Tanita
While some tech innovators work to end pressing crises like global warming and poverty, others busy themselves by coming up with shit that, arguably, we could probably do without. Flamethrower drones, for instance, seem like a bad idea. On the other hand, a human surrogate that works like Uber sounds great, but might not work so well in practice. And now a new technological advancement hopes to make your perfectly functioning nose obsolete. Behold, the ES-100, a robot that tells you if you smell God-awful.
According to Gizmodo, the handheld device comes from Tanita, a Japanese company that specializes in electronic scales. Simply unfurl that weird little wand and hold it up to a body part that you think might reek—armpit, neck, butt, if you're feeling adventurous—and it'll let you know just how disgusting you smell, on a scale of one to ten. Within about ten seconds, you'll either see something like a one—meaning "good job, you're not a vile human being"—or a ten, signifying that you should probably burn the clothes on your back and walk through a car wash.In a press release about its "smell checker," which we've shoddily adapted into English via Google Translate, Tanita markets the thing by claiming that "interest in 'smell' such as body odor" is apparently "increasing," and something called "smell harassment" has "become commonplace"—with several companies allegedly "conducting seminars on 'smell care'" in the workplace. First off: Is that real? And secondly, why can't you just sniff your goddamn armpit yourself?Like the tech bros who launched an innovative transportation service that was actually just the bus, Tanita seems not to have noticed that, just below our eyes, right above our lips, humans have this thing called a nose. To be fair, the ES-100 could be useful, say if you're smell-blind, or if you're heading off to an armpit-smelling speed date, and you need a machine to tell you that your BO is actually rank. Otherwise, shelling out $115—which, yes, is what it actually costs—doesn't make a whole lot of sense.But hey, if you're that worried about smelling like a human dumpster, and you'd like a little robot to give you a sniff, go ahead and buy the thing. It goes on sale July 1, just in time for the sweatiest, nastiest season of the year.Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.