Saving Lives in Seconds Challenge Co., Ltd. IP

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Independent earthquake sensors for businesses and institutions anywhere in the world

In the event of an earthquake, a few seconds’ warning could mark the line between safety and disaster. Challenge Co., Ltd. produces earthquake early-warning systems that enable businesses and institutions to not only independently detect earthquakes, but also automate responses that can save lives, data and equipment.

Founded in 2009, Challenge focuses on allowing businesses and institutions to be one step ahead of impending disasters. The company’s EQguard is an on-site early warning system that not only estimates the intensity of incoming earthquakes, but also offers an audio countdown in one of 10 languages and pre-programmed responses based on user-set intensity levels, enabling companies to automatically shut down machinery and elevators, deliver announcements and even back up data.

Earthquake Detection

Shockwave arrival time and intensity are predicted by analyzing an earthquake’s longitudinal waves, known as primary waves, or P waves. Predominantly non-destructive, P waves travel through rock significantly faster than transverse secondary waves, or S waves, which are the source of an earthquake’s destructive shaking.

Depending on the distance from the epicenter, the warning can range from several seconds to dozens of seconds. As Challenge President Kazuo Sasaki notes, “Having even five seconds to prepare could be enough to save 80 percent

EQguard model EQG-III.

Independent Data Collection

All of EQguard’s domestic devices are linked to servers that receive information from the Japan Meteorological Agency’s network of roughly 200 seismographs and 600 seismic intensity meters. The EQG-III, however, also serves as an independent earthquake detection unit in itself.

This patent-pending device has a built-in accelerometer that uses MEMS sensors to detect P waves, with specialized software and algorithms enabling the devices to distinguish between earthquakes and ambient vibration.

Challenge Co., Ltd. President Kazuo Sasaki.

International Applications

Challenge systems are currently being utilized in roughly 1,000 locations around Japan, including schools, offices, factories and welfare facilities. In future, the company hopes to market its systems to other earthquake-prone countries around the world, such as Turkey, Italy and the U.S.

Already, Challenge has set up an experimental network of devices in the city of Yogyakarta on the Indonesian island of Java, while Indonesia’s Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) gave the product its seal of approval after rigorous tests confirmed its reliability against false positives. “They suggested it be installed in highly sensitive facilities, such as chemical factories, petroleum plants, and so on,” Sasaki explains.

Sasaki says he hopes to further expand Challenge’s market internationally, but above all, wants to stay true to the company’s focus. “There are many things we want to achieve in the future,” he says. “But our priority is for our products to be useful to society.” And a few seconds’ warning may be all it takes to both protect businesses and save lives.

The EQguard system was presented with an award at Ar-Raniry State Islamic University in Banda Aceh, Indonesia; courtesy of Challenge Co., Ltd.

Based on interview in September 2016