This team of Japanese researchers proudly accepted the Ig Nobel Prize for Improbable Research yesterday, for its invention of a wasabi-scented smoke alarm that could alert deaf people who can’t hear audible warnings of fire emergencies. The Wasabi Smoke Alarm emits a dense wasabi oil mist when triggered.
Japan is a true powerhouse when it comes to winning Ig Nobel Prizes, as Japanese recipients have now won awards for the fifth straight year. Previous Ig Nobel Prize winners from Japan have been recognized for using slime molds to design rail networks (2010), proving panda poop can dissolve kitchen refuse (2009), teaching amoebas how to navigate mazes (2008), and for developing a method of extracting vanillin (vanilla fragrance and flavoring) from cow dung (2007).
Toto is Japan’s biggest toilet bowl making company. You see the logo everywhere you go–at the airport, in department stores, at people’s homes. Now you may also see it on the road–the company just released its first hybrid toilet-motorcycle that runs entirely on poop! As the person drives, he can poop into the bowl, and that poop will be turned into fuel for the car. It’s actually part of a campaign that Toto is running in an effort to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50% in the next 6 years. The motorcycle will be making its way from Kyushu to Tokyo over the next month (departing in six days). Very exciting! I’m not sure who’s driving but I’m sure that, in addition to having a drivers license, they had to check his stool to make sure its healthy and fuel-worthy.
I was in a government building conducting an interview a couple of weeks ago and noticed that a new role had been created: Minister of State for Conclusion of the Nuclear Incident and Prevention of Reoccurrence.
In case you’re not in Tokyo or stuck at work during our 10-12AM JST Friday session on innovation and tech in Japan at Open Network Lab, here’s the live stream of the event. I’ll be on for the first 10 minutes, and then I’m passing it on to my much more eloquent lineup of speakers.