Chinese inventor's earthquake-proof bed: Terrifying or ingenious?

An inventor in China has come up with an earthquake-proof bed, which seals its sleeping occupant into a steel chamber in the event of a disaster.

Wang Wenxi was granted a patent for his early design of the quake-proof bed in 2010, reported the Daily Mail.

In the event of an earthquake, the bed activates, tipping its occupant into an empty chamber beneath the mattress.

The "panic chamber" will have space for emergency supplies, such as bottled water, first aid kits and rations, to keep you alive till rescuers come for you, or it's safe to come out.

A video animation illustrates how the bed works.

When tremors are detected, a "trap door" opens, and the sleeper drops into the chamber below. Steel doors will then slide shut, sealing the occupant inside the chamber.

There are also variations, including a bed with a "lid" that slams shut, and one with a steel canopy that drops down from above.

But many Internet users have ridiculed the concept, with some saying the bed itself is more terrifying than an earthquake.

YouTube user Marko Radinkovic called the bed an "automatic burial service", while another user, Schreibsessel, wondered if the chamber was fireproof: "I don't know, but what is happening if the building also catches fire? Congratulations, you are being roasted in a metal cage."

Other grim scenarios: What if you have a tendency to sleep with one leg dangling over the side of your bed? Or if you just happen to be getting in or out of bed when the earthquake occurs? Will the parts of your body which are not on the bed be sliced off by the quick steel doors?

Wang has updated his original design, according to the Daily Mail.

However, some just cannot get past the thought of sleeping in a bed that could seal you in a steel box, especially for people suffering from claustrophobia.

While Wang's intention of trying to save lives in an earthquake is a noble one, his concept could use some refining.

Until then, it seems unlikely that people living in earthquake-prone areas will be rushing out to buy these beds even if they are brought to market.

xiuhuil@sph.com.sg