By Andrew Liszewski
An ear-piercing alarm is an effective way to alert most people about a possible fire or emergency, but what about the deaf? Flashing lights can be effective, but only if they’re visible, and the person isn’t sleeping. So a Japanese company called Air Water Safety Service has developed a new type of fire alarm that uses smell instead of sound. More specifically, it uses the chemical compound allyl isothiocyanate, which you’ll find in horseradish and wasabi, in specific quantities so as to wake someone up without giving them a burning sensation in their eyes.
In testing the alarm has been found to be effective in a room roughly about 50 square feet in size, waking someone up with smell alone in about 2 and a half minutes. Not exactly springing out of bed mind you, but it does seem to work. Unfortunately the $560 price tag has meant the units aren’t exactly flying off the shelves, but the company hopes a redesign can bring the price down to a slightly more reasonable, but still kind of expensive, $225.