While the vast majority of Japanese medical device designs are insightful, beneficial and, er, normal, a rare few stand out by virtue of their extreme niche applications and distinctive attributes such as borderline inappropriate cuteness. This isn't always a bad thing, especially if one of these strange and bizarre medical devices is about to be used on you!
7) Mermaid Self-Propelled Endoscopy Device
Combine Disney's Little Mermaid with the 1966 sci-fi classic film Fantastic Voyage and you've got The Mermaid... or as Derek Zoolander might say, “Mer-MAN!”
This pill-sized, self-propelled endoscopy device was invented by researchers from Ryukoku University and Osaka Medical College in Japan as an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-ternative to invasive and uncomfortable endoscopes.
The Mermaid can be swallowed or inserted rectally, after which it begins snapping photos at the rate of 2 per second while the device's movement is controlled using a joystick... sorry, Raquel Welch is NOT on board and really, can you blame her? (Japanese medical device image via MedGadget)
6) Fiber Optic Video Ear Scope
Gold Rush Earlaska? Don't tell the Discovery Channel but Coden's EarScope can help you locate those precious gold(en) nuggets faster than Honey Boo Boo can locate between-meal snacks.
Settle down, budding prospectors, this is only a self-operated fiber optic video camera & ear pick combo so we're not exactly sure what the model above is looking so surprised about, unless she hid gold in her ears as a child.
Coden also suggest the device can be used to peek into attics for wasp nests or whatnot but be sure no wasps are clinging to the tip before embarking on your next earwax prospecting expedition. (Japanese medical device image via Japan Trend Shop)
5) Anti-Snoring Robotic Polar Bear Pillow
The Jukusui-kun (“Deep Sleep”) robotic polar bear pillow is an anti-snoring and Sleep Apnea prevention device invented by Waseda University's Kabe Lab, with a little inspiration from Rube Goldberg.
The obviously not-ready-for-prime-time (or nap time) device requires the snorer to wear a cute, fleecy polar bear cub-shaped pulse-oxygen meter glove on one hand.
When the glove's sensors note a drop in blood oxygen, a signal is sent to the pillow which then brushes the offending sleeper's face with its arm, causing the sleeper to change position to one that hopefully doesn't promote snoring... just like your spouse or S.O. does right now, only in not such a cute fashion. (Japanese medical device image via ShiftEast)
4) Muu Socia 3.0 Communication Support Robot
Muu Socia 3.0 isn't really a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater – it can't fly, comes in a variety of colors, and to the best of our knowledge doesn't eat people... yet.
Anyway, that's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International's story and they're sticking to it. Equipped with voice recognition, voice synthesis, speech processing and face recognition capabilities, the so-called “communication support” robot was designed to encourage communication between caregivers and care recipients... one example of which would be “What the *bleep* is that thing, and whatever the *bleep* it is, get it the *bleep* away from me before I throw it out the *bleep*-ing window!” (Japanese medical device image via Robot Watch)
3) Belly Button "Sesame Mixer-Catchers"
They may be rather low-tech as medical devices go but Hesogomu Karametoru (Belly Button "Sesame Mixer-Catchers", seriously) were made to help you, the user, patrol the front lines of antibacterial navel warfare.
Maybe you don't care about the dirt, lint and other assorted debris constantly accumulating in your navel. Maybe you're oblivious to the approximately 600 types of bacteria partying 24-7 at Club Umbilicus. Maybe you have an outie.
Regardless, swabbing the decks at the ol' navel base just got easier and pricier as well. A hefty 1,890 yen (about $24) is what you'll pay for a mere 10 specially designed cotton swabs and a tube of organic, dirt-absorbing, plant-based gel... and you WILL pay, now that we've told you what's going on down there, IN there, as you're reading this. Eww. (Japanese medical device image via RocketNews24)
2) Transnasal Endoscope
“Gee doc, my last prostate exam wasn't anything like this, not that I'm complaining or anything. Moooon riverrrr...”
Looking like an outtake from John Carpenter's 1982 sci-fi/horror film classic The Thing, the display model for a new transnasal endoscope developed by FUJIFILM Medical Co., Ltd. and Fujinon Toshiba ES Systems Co., Ltd. is intended to show off the diagnostic instrument to best advantage.
Admittedly, anything would look good beside the excruciatingly uncomfortable-looking semi-torso seemingly caught in mid-shriek. We can't wait to see their colonoscope, and by “can't wait” we mean “DO NOT WANT”. (Japanese medical device image via Pink Tentacle)
1) "Robohelper Love" Automatic Wearable Toilet
Last but not least, meet “Robohelper Love,” an automatic toilet machine designed especially for bedridden oldsters and/or hospital patients. Actually, “Robohelper Love” would make a great band name but we digress.
Inside a curiously embossed, flesh-toned, U-shaped thing that looks like Gundam's jock cup is a vacuum mechanism activated by a moisture sensor that siphons waste through a duct into a remote storage tank.
But wait, there's more! A tiny integral bidet then goes into spray and blow-dry mode like a miniaturized wearable washlet. “This machine is intended to ease the burden for caregivers,” explains Daizo Igawa, manager of Muscle Corp., “especially at night, and it also helps those in bed stay clean.” If only it didn't resemble the Alien Facehugger re-imagined by Vivid Video. (Japanese medical device image via News.com.au)
Suddenly feeling a lot better? Ready to re-schedule that overdue physical examination to the Tuesday after “I'll let you know”?
Look on the bright side, at least your belly-button will henceforth be clean as a whistle though as Ned “Needlenose” Ryerson can attest, whistling through one's belly-button isn't recommended unless you've topped up your life insurance first. (Japanese medical device images via The Atlantic/REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao, top, and Tofugu, above)
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