The small, but potent root popular with sushi, is helping researchers develop a new type of smoke alarm aimed at helping deaf people get out of danger more easily. Because the effects of wasabi are not oil-based, like those of peppers, they're not as long lasting. Japanese scientists have taken advantage of this and developed a type of smoke alarm that dispenses wasabi spray in the air when it detects dangerous smoke.
In a test of a prototype, a man woke up within 10 seconds of getting wasabi sprayed into his sleeping chamber. The scientists had to come up with what the ideal density of the smoke had to be, and for this they were rewarded with an Ig Nobel in Chemistry, a sort of Nobel prize for unusual research. (Source)