Wasabi Fire Alarms For The Deaf

from the now-there's-an-idea dept

It’s always fascinating to see technology come up with unique solutions to certain problems. For people who are deaf, it makes sense that a traditional fire alarm might not work, since they wouldn’t hear the alarm in order to escape. So, if I were tasked with coming up with a special alarm for the deaf, I’d most likely target one of the other senses. I would probably go with sight or touch as the first two, creating fire alarms that light up and flash or perhaps bang or shake something so the person would feel the alarm. However, Boing Boing notes that some researchers in Japan went after a different sense: smell. They’ve created a horseradish fire alarm (I’m assuming it’s actually a wasabi smell, but since the two are effectively the same, perhaps it doesn’t matter). In tests, the wasabi smell woke up 13 of 14 test subjects in less than two minutes. What’s not clear, however, is how much more effective the smell of wasabi is than, say, the smell of smoke from the actual fire. Also, what happens if there’s already a strong wasabi smell in the house? If I’m deaf, I think I’d prefer a flashing light.

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Comments on “Wasabi Fire Alarms For The Deaf”

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data64 says:

Smell rather than sight

If I was engrossed in a book or sleeping, a visual indication is less likely to attract my attention. An olfactory signal tends to be detected as an involuntary action, kind of like an Out-of-band signal. In this way, it is more like an audio alarm.
Cool idea in any case.

Disclaimer: I am not deaf so my experiences and opinion mean diddlysquat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Right, but...

Actually, “smelling salts are chemical compounds used to arouse consciousness”

“Smelling salts release ammonia [NH3] gas, which irritates the mucous membranes of the nose and lungs, and thereby triggers an inhalation reflex (that is, it causes the muscles that control breathing to work faster).”

Amanya Wannahearfrom says:

A VERY interesting and novel article, good job!!!!

You say, however:

“What’s not clear, however, is how much more effective the smell of wasabi is than, say, the smell of smoke from the actual fire.”

You pose a question that is out of place and (please excuse) impertinent.

Wasabi smell does not cause unconsciousness while asleep when applied like most any house fire smoke,

Wasabi smell doesnt make you blind to the surroundings (a problem if deaf, yes?

Wasabi is not as deadly as thick carbon monoxide,

does not fill the closed rooms with carbon DIoxide,

not containing poisons that disable a given individual,

is able to be distributed house wide faster than smoke,

is not superheated,

Wasabi smell immediatly drives a message to the deepest part of the human brain, Jump and Run. Not turn over, sleepy sleepy. (sense of smell most primitive) Good Stuff Here!

Most Important: fires tend to start in nearby household rooms the Wasabi carries the message without death and passing out enclosed with the message. surely by electrical signal as already is in place, then discharging the wasabi SMELL into the other rooms.

(This is presuming a release mechanism simply built into standard existing fire alarms on ceiling in houses)
(If you have a deaf, single, deep sleeping cook that smells wasabi all day that would be a counter indication!)

I predict with some confidence (as smell is basic to brain) (more basic than other senses) all fire alarms will have this feature in ten years or less (or similar).

I applaud Techdirt, this IS the kind of article that is JUST GREAT!!!!!

Haaaaand….. Salute!


A student @ West Johnston High School says:

Re: wasabi

Well then maybe we should stop ignoring the Deaf culture altogether and do something to help, bc we need just as much help from them as they need from us. And I think that all these ideas are GREAT and we should stop arguing and try to figure out what works the best. And as a sophomore in high school and taking ASL (American Sign Language) and doing a project on Deaf alarms I think that ASL and Deaf people is the next best thing. Bc when we actually sat down and watched movies on what they have to go through growing up (not that is was anything bad) its just sooooo surprising to me how tough that culture is. And I think that if our culture would sit down and like learn their language like I am then I think that every one would be a little bit happier and the would be some what of a better place.

jeffreyfrog (profile) says:

Refusing to allow a deaf person to use a shelter violates federal law whether or not the shelter receives federal funds. (It may also violate state law.) Homeless shelters are usually covered by the ADA (and Section 504 if they receive federal funds), but may be covered by the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act if people typically reside there for extended periods. For the shelter to refuse admittance because they don’t provide accommodations would be a double violation–one for the failure to provide accommodations and one for refusing admittance based on disability. security

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