June 18, 2012 at 5:48 PM ET
Not every futuristic technology has to be profound or revolutionary. Sometimes it's enough that it could be straight out of the Jetsons. Case in point: this floormat that vacuums dirt off the soles of your shoes when you step on it. Pairs well with a robot cleaner, and there are plenty of those to choose from as well.
Each mat is about 20 by 40 inches, and comes attached to a vacuum unit and sensor. The sensor detects when someone gets close and turns on the vacuum, but no air is actually sucked in except where a foot depresses and opens the tiny nozzles.
The system was developed by Paionia Furyokuki, with whom Diginfo.tv caught up at a recent Japanese trade show. Watch the video below:
Naturally it's not quite as useful for snow, mud and other sole hazards, but it could probably handle those with some modifications. As it is, it could be useful in labs and clean rooms where outside particles are carefully safeguarded against; the bottoms of feet are popular vectors for contaminating dust and bacteria, so a system like this might be considered by places making such considerations.
It's a bit bulky to install at your front door, though, and at ¥500,000 (around $6,250), it's really not aimed at the home market just yet. Still, it's a whimsical but still practical invention that may yet find a foothold elsewhere.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.