October 12, 2007 Citizen has displayed an innovative earthquake warning concept watch at CEATEC Japan 2007. Jointly developed with Rhythm Watch, the device combines an Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) receiver and an analog watch. The Seismic watch functions as an ordinary watch until it receives the EEW, which causes the hour hand to speed up based on the seismic intensity estimation, while the minute and second hands give the countdown time to the earthquake arrival.
The wearer is alerted of an imminent earthquake with an audible alarm and, fittingly, a vibrator. This EEW capability is only available in Japan (a country that is located in a high-risk earthquake zone) as it relies on announcements from Japan’s Meteorological Office, which provides subscribers with advance announcements regarding the arrival time, epicentre and magnitude of impending earthquakes based on data collected from stations located at around 1000 locations all over the country. The watch receives the EEW and calculates the seismic intensity and arrival time of the earthquake in relation to the watch location based on this data.
Citizen is hoping to use a public radio wave such as one-segment broadcasting to receive the EEW data. Such a system would enable reception of the EEW outside and over a wider area than other EEW watches which utilize specified low power radio waves or Bluetooth and are therefore only able to receive the EEW within a small area. Citizen also claims its watch offers the advantage of immediacy over the mobile phone system which provides a broadcast e-mail of an impending earthquake to a mobile phone which may take around ten seconds to receive the warning due to its system requirements. The watch also overcomes the problem of having to be in front of the TV to receive an earthquake alert through Japanese broadcaster NHK’s EEW service which started on October 1st.
The watch will initially be available in a men’s model due to the larger size requirements needed to incorporate the built-in receiver, although Citizen hopes to downsize the watch in the future to produce a lady’s model. A clock model which can use the house LAN to receive the EEW will also be available. This is designed to be placed in a prominent place in the house so residents can take action to protect themselves before the earthquake arrives.
Citizen is aiming for a 2010 release, with the clock expected to cost around 20,000 yen (US$170), while the price of the watch hasn’t been decided.