Cambridge Massachusetts — A group of Japanese researchers won the spoof Ig Nobel chemistry prize Thursday for
developing a smoke detector that sprays a wasabi scent to warn of possible fires.
The 21st annual event for the prizes, which the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research gives in 10 categories as a parody of the Nobel Prizes, was held at Harvard University's historic Sanders Theatre. It was the fifth straight year
that an Ig Nobel prize has been won by Japanese.
Accepting the prize, Imai told the enthusiastic
crowd of around 1,200 about the hard work that went into making the
gadget, thanking research subjects who "choked on the pungent smell"
while they slept in exam rooms.
The seven-member team began their project in 2000 to benefit people who can't hear traditional fire alarms, which rely on sound.
Their experiments focused on the source of the
overpowering wasabi odor — allyl mustard oil — and the amount that can
safely be used to rouse someone who is asleep.
Seems Inc. in Tokyo and Kobe-based Air Water
Safety Service Inc. used the research to develop an alarm that warns
people by emitting the powerful scent until "a person is unable to
tolerate" the odor, according to the U.S. patent filed in February 2009.
Available since April 2009, the alarm sells for
about $600, although a more economic model may be on the market in one
to two years, the team said.
Brilliant! One more advantage, they have healthy sinuses for sure :)