Photo/IllutrationStudents of Yamanashi Gakuin University show off their multilanguage emergency warning machine for non-Japanese at the university in Kofu. (Tetsuo Taniguchi)

KOFU--In the future, the lives of non-Japanese at hotels and elsewhere may be saved thanks to college students here who developed equipment to issue warnings in foreign languages in the event of a fire or an earthquake.

A trial of a prototype device created by the students of Yamanashi Gakuin University that can issue warnings in English and Chinese is currently under way with an eye toward commercializing the equipment.

“Students from a variety of countries study at Yamanashi Gakuin University so we can add various languages in addition to English and Chinese to respond to customers’ requests,” said Mayu Michimura, a senior at the college who was involved in its development.

The device was developed by the Y.G.T.S. LLC, which was established in 2016 to provide support for tourists from outside Japan by students attending a class taught by Shinichi Suzumi, a business professor at the university.

The students questioned operators of accommodation facilities around the five noted lakes near Mount Fuji, which attract many non-Japanese sightseers, and found that there was a need for multilanguage warning equipment.

They jointly developed the special device with members of a college laboratory who are familiar with digital technology.

Measuring 15 centimeters by 8 cm, the box-shaped prototype machine can repeat announcements, such as alerting listeners to flee when the fire alarm goes off, in Japanese, English and Chinese, when dedicated buttons are pushed.

As it is battery-powered, the device, named Ema-Box after the English word “emergency,” can be even used during power outages.

A test of the prototype is now being conducted at a hotel in the Hokuroku district. If no problems are detected through the trial, the students plan to contact operators of hotels and tourist facilities in Yamanashi Prefecture to market their invention.

One potential problem is how to connect the warning device with broadcasting equipment, which differ depending on the facility. So the device, priced at 50,000 yen ($470), will be made to order.