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USB-powered hay-fever mask from Japan

Visit Japan during springtime and one of the first terms you're likely to hear is 'hay fever' - that's because it's a major health hazard here that seriously affects tens of millions of people, many of whom have to take time off work.

Naturally, with such numbers involved, it's also a huge cash cow for firms involved in selling allergy remedies and associated products, including gadgets like this one from Thanko .

The ¥2,480 (£11) USB Mask (is there anything that's not USB-powered these days?) is marketed as an add-on to the gauze or cotton surgical masks that are almost ubiquitous here in spring. Its selling point is that it includes two convection fans powered from a PC, which draw cool external air through a filter onto the mouth and nose.

Thanko's point is that this eliminates the moist, steamy environment that develops under a normal mask, which makes concentrating on work so much easier. We just wonder if it's likely to be used by Japanese bosses as an 'incentive' to keep their staff tethered to the desk even longer.