So Hot! Finding the Coolest Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are one of those home safety features we don't spend much time thinking about or looking at. They sit unobtrusively on a wall and we forget about them until the battery weakens and starts to chirp or there's nearby smoke. But a few new products are making us re-think the humble fire alarm.

Last year c|net discovered a company in Japan that developed a smoke detector aimed at the hearing impaired that emits "a strong odor of wasabi." According to c|net, the device unleashes the chemical compound allyl isothiocyanate, which gives our favorite spicy condiments like horseradish and wasabi their bite. A red LED on the alarm also starts flashing. The device originally cost around $560 but the manufacturer hoped that a redesign would bring the price down to $225.

Another great idea – inserting a smoke detector into a light bulb. The Lum, designed by Arthur Brault, is an attachment between the light bulb and its socket. When the detector is latent, it draws energy from the bulb, and when the smoke alarm is triggered, the sonar alarm goes off as the bulb is powered during the emergency. Pretty clever.

And one of our favorite designs comes from the Netherlands. Dubbed the Chick-a-dee, the playful take on the smoke detector was a winning entry in a design contest sponsored by the Union of Dutch Insurance Companies in the Netherlands in the fall of 2006. Designed for the children's market, the clip-on bird provides a chirping warning call (becoming progressively louder) as soon as smoke is detected. The bird comes in a variety of colors, can be easily affixed to the ceiling and costs about € 49.95 plus shipping.

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