Smoke Detector—Now with Wasabi Smell-O-Vision!

Smoke Detector—Now with Wasabi Smell-O-Vision!

Taryn Williford
Feb 18, 2010

Why does a deaf person need a fire detector? It sounds like the start of a bad (and probably offensive) joke. But the concept is rooted in reality. That's why a Japanese emergency service has designed a Wasabi Fire Detector that uses smell, not sound. Could we start seeing this in noisy bars and concert venues?

Your modern fire detector probably has flashing lights that go off when it detects smoke, but those lights do no good if you're not looking straight at them (and really, if you are staring at your fire detector, you would probably see the smoke). And let's not forget that a tiny flashing red LED won't wake you up for a middle-of-the-night emergency.

So Japanese company Air Water Safety Service, Inc. designed a smoke detector that alerts you with smell instead of sound. And it's not a pleasant potpourri, either. You're being woken up with the instantly stirring, nose-hair tingling smell of wasabi.

Wasabi? Yep.

When the Wasabi Smoke Alarm detects smoke, it releases the chemical compound allyl isothiocyanate, the thing that gives horseradish and wasabi their respective bites.

And they've tested it to no end. The airborne wasabi, the dosage of which was optimized to wake people up without hurting their eyes, was able to wake up almost every subject within two and a half minutes.

It hasn't seem much implementation into Japanese homes just yet, but since being released last year, Air Water Safety Service (thatsounds like an alternative band, doesn't it?) has just lowered the price from $560 to $225. Could this be an innovation for America's deaf? Will we see smell-o-vision smoke alarms in noisy bars and concert venues? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Via OhGizmo!

(Top Image: Photo illustration from Taryn Fiol using smoke detector image from Flickr user deedoucette under license from Creative Commons.)

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