by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 11th 2008 2:11pm
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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