CHIBA -- Ahead of allergy season, a meteorology company in this city's Mihama Ward is sending pollen-level detectors to roughly 1,000 participating homes, hospitals, companies and other locations in a project to collect information about the distribution of the itchy substance.
The "Pollen Robo" device is a sphere about 15 centimeters in diameter, and designed to look like a face -- with eyes, nose and a mouth. The color of the robot's eyes change based on the amount of pollen measured in the air -- the color corresponding to five concentration levels -- so that people can glean the level at a glance. The lowest level is white, and the color changes to blue, yellow, red and then purple as the pollen density rises. The observation data is then sent to Weathernews, east of Tokyo, via the internet, and used for the firm's pollen forecasts.
The company predicts that the peak of allergy season will be from late February to mid-March for Japanese cedar pollen, and from late March to mid-April for pollen from cypress trees. It is possible that amount of airborne pollen this spring will be the largest in six years, and the company is calling for caution -- or at least some tissues!
(Japanese original by Tatsuro Tamaki, Photo Group)