TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Japanese robots are helping hayfever sufferers get through the allergy minefield that is spring by measuring the amount of pollen in the air and then warning about its severity.
Japan's Weather News information company has produced 500 of these globe-shaped robots, whose eyes change color depending on the amount of allergy-causing pollen in the air.
The robots have been installed at homes across Japan, where at least one in five people suffer from hayfever, and the data collected is transmitted to Weather News, which then releases it onto the Internet.
"You cannot really see pollen, but these detectors help you find out the exact pollen levels at a particular location at a particular time," said company spokeswoman Naoko Taki.
Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, causes great discomfort to millions of people worldwide, who must either take medication or don masks to avoid the watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing fits and headaches associated with the condition.
In Tokyo, cedar tree pollen is the main trigger for hay fever. The trees grow all around the country, and during warm, windy days, pollen often rises like smoke from forests.
Reporting by Hiroyuki Muramoto; Editing by Miral Fahmy