Technology

TOKYO – Now when visiting Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, you’ll see something that looks like a mini toilet roll – but it’s not for your backside. This little piece of ingenuity is for cleaning your smartphone!

Authorities in Japan have installed “toilet paper” that you can use to disinfect your smartphone.

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Paid for by Japanese mobile giant NTT Docomo, the sheets, bearing the message ‘Welcome to Japan’, also include information about the firm’s public Wi-Fi networks as well as details about its smartphone travel app.

The quirky idea was conceived after a study found that smartphone screens can house more germs than toilet seats.

The product has been launched in 86 cubicles at Narita’s arrivals hall this month, but it won’t be rolled out to other airports in Japan till March next year.

In true Japanese fashion, a quirky two-minute instructional video demonstrated how to correctly use the sheets, and also the “shower” or bidet function found in most public toilets in the country.

Response on social media

Social media users have reacted to the move with humour and disbelief.

“Give your smartphone a wipe while you answer the call of nature,” commented Roger Chen in Singapore.

“What if you’re tired and jetlagged and accidentally mix up the smartphone toilet paper with the regular roll,” asked another user.

Many also welcomed the move:

“Welcome [to] Japan, where [the] way things are designed is pretty amazing in the sense that they seem to have thought of everything,” said a user.

“Even things that you didn’t think you needed suddenly become items you just can’t live without.”

‘Welcome to Japan’

The bizarre dispensers have been installed in seven restrooms and will remain in place until March next year, local media cited NTT Docomo as saying.

“There are more than five times of germs on a smartphone screen as compared to a toilet seat,” NTT Docomo said in a post on its official YouTube page.

It added that the special cleaning rolls were “made to clean screens so foreign tourists could enjoy their travel hygienically”.

Japan is known for its hi-tech toilets that feature heated seats and jets of warm water – some even have lids that automatically lift if a man is about to urinate.

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An exhibition in Tokyo unveiled the world’s first gold toilet this year.