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Spraying for smiles: Japan mall sets up disinfectant device that reacts to visitors' grins

This Sept. 18, 2020 photo taken in Fukuoka's Chuo Ward shows "emmyWash," a disinfectant device that sprays rubbing alcohol when it detects smiles. (Mainichi/Mayu Suenaga)

FUKUOKA -- A disinfectant device that dispenses rubbing alcohol when it detects smiles was placed in a shopping center in this southwestern Japan city on Sept. 18.

    The appliance "emmyWash" was developed by Myname Inc., a Tokyo-based firm devoted to creating a society filled with laughter and solving social issues, in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    When visitors stand in front of the dispenser and place their palms under the spray nozzle while smiling toward a built-in mirror, a sensor detects the facial expression based on movements of the eyes and mouth, and automatically sprays alcohol disinfectant. Once the number of sprays, or the number of recorded smiles, accumulates and reaches a certain amount, disinfectant liquid will be donated to medical and educational institutions among other places.

    Inter Media Station (IMS), a commercial facility in the city of Fukuoka's Chuo Ward, set up the device near the main entrance on its first floor as well as near the doors on the second basement floor leading to the Tenjin shopping district. It plans to make donations to elementary and middle schools in the city, with a target of 20 bottles per month.

    A public relations representative at IMS commented, "The more visitors smile, the more donations will be made, which will enhance smiles from the children at elementary and middle schools that received donations. We hope to create such a cycle of smiling faces."

    (Japanese original by Mayu Suenaga, Kyushu News Department)

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