Boingboing had an interesting bit posted regarding a new alarm technique being used to alert deaf people in case of emergency. The concept uses the pungent aroma of horseradish extracts.
Shiga University of Medical Science Hospital cooperated with the makers and carried out experiments to see if the horseradish smell can wake up people from a deep sleep.
Fourteen people, including those with hearing disabilities, took part in the experiments.
In the experiment, 13 out of the 14 subjects woke up in less than two minutes after the smell reached their noses.
The people with hearing disabilities were particularly quick to wake up, with one person emerging from sleep in just 10 seconds.
There are preexisting systems for awaking people with vibration but this could alert a larger area as it doesn’t depend on close proximity/physical contact. A comment on the originating news report page raises a good an interesting question, “Won’t the smell of the smoke mask the smell of the horseradish?” – Hmm, I’d assume that smoke he refers to would be then strong enough to wake someone, but perhaps too late.
Update: Commenter Meryl provided additional info on vibration alarms – Thanks!