How do deaf people “hear” fire alarms?
Being deaf and being in a home or hotel when the fire alarm goes off puts you at a distinct disadvantage for getting out alive. So how would a deaf people hear fire alarms when the alarms go off?
A research group in Japan back in 2010 came up with a solution by adding a unit that sprays sweet smellies into your home to a smoke detector. They came up with the idea of using the deaf persons ability to smell the fire alarm instead of hearing it.
What they did was to make the smoke detector operate the spray unit and put the essence of Wasabi into the room.
This essence of Wasabi that they used was Allyl Isothiocyanate, which is also known as Mustard Oil.
This stuff has such a potent smell that it will wake the most dedicated sleeper up from a deep sleep. Attach this to a flashing light and the deaf people are able to get out of the place where the smoke was detected before they get burnt to death.
According to the researchers the difficult part was figuring out the concentration of Allyl Isothiocyanate they needed to wake people up. It should be noted that Allyl Isothiocyanate in high concentrations is extremely dangerous, so getting the right concentration was important.
A US patent application number 2010/0308995 A1 was obtained in 2009 for this idea.
You don’t see many around in hotels even now, mainly due to the price which is US$500+ each. There was some talk about reducing the price, but nothing seems to have happened about that at the moment. I suppose that being approximately 100 times the price of a light cell or Cesium smoke detection unit it is going to be quite a while before you see them on the local hardware store shelves.
It looks like this is another good idea that will be thrown away because either there is no demand for it – I don’t believe that because I am sure deaf people want to “hear” a fire alarm when it goes off next to them, or nobody can figure (or be bothered to) to combine the two units and reduce the cost to a realistic price. Maybe they need a good Industrial Designer and Engineer on board to get their act together? Any offers?