Sunday, November 13, 2011

No. 350: Using the smell of wasabi for a smoke alarm designed for hearing-impaired people (November 14, 2011)

Why don’t you use the smell of wasabi (Japanese horseradish) to inform hearing-impaired people of the outbreak of a fire? A seven-member Japanese research team developed equipment that sprays a gas smell of wasabi (Japanese horseradish) to tell the outbreak of a fire. The research team won the Ig Nobel Prize for 2011 with this wasabi smoke alarm. According to the government sources, there are about 60 million hearing-impaired people in Japan. The spread rate of smoke alarm is still 70% despite the government policy, and the spread rate of smoke alarm for hearing-impaired people is merely 2%. Smoke alarms that flash or vibrate are available for hearing-impaired people at present.

To improve the present situation, Fire andDisaster Management Agency is planning to implement a policy to distribute smoke alarms to low-income households of hearing-impaired people for free. The agency is also planning to revise the regulation to install smoke alarms of this kind in hotels and movie theaters. The maker that developed the wasabi smoke large has been receiving lots of inquiries. It costs several tens of thousand yen to install a smoke alarm for hearing-impaired people, while it costs several thousand yen to install a standard type smoke alarm.   

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