We all know how the hunt usually goes. You slap yourself in the ear in the middle of the night because a mosquito did a flyby. You spring out of bed, throw on the lights, chase the bugger around the room.
Oftener than not, you lose.
Mosquitos are pests. They're also incredibly dangerous in areas where mosquito-borne illness like Zika or dengue are prevalent. There are a host of eradication and mitigation techniques out there. Not too many of them use lasers ... until now.
A three-year-old startup called Bzigo is developing a device that accurately detects and locates mosquitoes. Once a mosquito is detected, the device sends a smartphone notification while the mosquito is marked by a laser pointer.
Mosquitos are hard to swat (for some of the science behind the challenge, check out this helpful writeup in the Independent). An autonomous laser marker that keeps a bead on the bloodsuckers might just even the playing field.
This might strike you as kind of a silly idea, but the tech behind it is pretty intriguing. The device is composed of an infrared LED, a hi-res wide angle camera, custom optics, and a processor. The innovation lies in several computer vision algorithms that can differentiate between a mosquito and other pixel-size signals (such as dust or sensor noise) by analyzing their movement patterns. A wide covering patent on the device and its technologies has been recently approved giving Bzigo a leg up in the high stakes world of mosquito sport hunting.
It's also worth noting that Bzigo is hardly the first company to try to build a better mosquito solution using technology. It was one of the ambitions behind bug zappers, after all, which use ultraviolet and blue light to attract bugs to the insect equivalent of the electric chair. Unfortunately, the light doesn't do a good job attracting mosquitos.
Ultrasonic repellents are similarly ineffective, and at best it turns out the wide array of candles, wristbands, and mats out there have extremely limited utility repelling mosquitos. In fact, the only things that really work with mosquitos are nets and DEET. The former are cumbersome and not ideal for most situations, the latter a heavy duty insecticide that doesn't play well with pets or children.
So as Rube Goldberg-esque as a laser-guided mosquito spotter seems, it actually might be a solution worth taking seriously.
Currently, Bzigo has a working prototype shown to detect mosquitoes within minutes of entering a room at a distance of up to eight meters (26 feet). The company is currently in talks with additional investors throughout the world to arrange production and bring Bzigo to market by 2021. Anyone can reserve a Bzigo device for a $9 deposit at bzigo.com, which also entitles you to a $30 discount off the estimated price of $169.