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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  1.  
    identicon
    data64, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 2:51pm

    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.

     

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  2.  
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    Beefcake, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 3:03pm

    Make the bed the alarm

    Put a spring in the bed to make the mattress or futon gently roll the sleeper to floor, waking them up and depositing them in the safest place in the room (most people stand up when woken by emergency, putting them fully in the smoke layer.)

     

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  3.  
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    Peter, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 3:09pm

    Smoke dosen't wake you up

    >>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

    Smoke dosen't wake you up, it just kills you in your sleep.

     

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  4.  
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    Wolf, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 3:14pm

    Beefcake> Brilliant! Copyright that idea, quick!

     

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  5.  
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    d, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 3:22pm

    strobe

    ive been in fire alarms with a strobe light. its bright as hell and definitely gets your attention. I couldnt say whether it would wake me up if i were asleep, but ive also slept right though loud audio fire alarms.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 3:23pm

    My old University had both vibrating mattresses and bright lights in the newest dorm rooms for the deaf. Thankfully, they disabled the system when I was placed there due to overflow...

     

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  7.  
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    dakels, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 3:44pm

    Horseradish is not TRUE wasabi of course but a good point was brought up. The noise of a fire alarm is also to wake you up. I don't know anyone who will wake from a strong smell of wasabi... Dream of sushi maybe... while they burn... how ironic...

     

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  8.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 4:22pm

    Right, but...

    Why not just use ammonia? It's been used as smelling salts for quite a while now, rather effectively too.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Amanya Wannahearfrom, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 5:02pm

    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!

    Mike

     

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  10.  
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    Bobshaker, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Right, but...

    That would just make people dream about going to the bathroom and if that wakes them up, well...

     

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  11.  
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    Overcast, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 7:34pm

    Electro Shock would work in most all situations - better than sound I suspect :O

     

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  12.  
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    rkme, Mar 11th, 2008 @ 9:10pm

    wasabi

    at least they're doing something. Unlike the US who simply ignore the deaf altogether.

     

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  13.  
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    anti-US-fools, Mar 12th, 2008 @ 2:04am

    Re: wasabi

    Oh shut your hole, another brainwashed idiot using a totaly unrelated subject to try and diss America. Beats where you live buddy

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2008 @ 4:28am

    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)."

     

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  15.  
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    Velma, May 21st, 2008 @ 7:31pm

    re: wasabi fire alarm

    I think it's a good idea. The whole idea about the smoke waking a person up faster than the wasabi, I think is rediculous.

    That's like saying the light from the blaze would be more affective than the strobe lights. And apparently that statement is false.

     

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  16.  
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    A student @ West Johnston High School, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 5:30am

    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.

     

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  17.  
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    A student @ West Johnston High School, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:18am

    Re: wasabi

    where i typed: "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."

    The would should be WORLD

     

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  18.  
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    A student @ West Johnston High School, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:20am

    Re: wasabi

    where i typed: "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."

    The would should be WORLD

     

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  19.  
    icon
    jeffreyfrog (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 8:47am

    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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