Die bloodsuckers – pew pew

In a bid to combat malaria, Intellectual Ventures is developing a method of killing mosquitoes with lasers. The system is called a Photonic Fence and identifies the beasties by the frequency of their wing flapping (hey, that’s exactly how we know when they’re dive-bombing our heads). Once locked-on, it’s death to the filthy blood-suckers.

This story was latched onto by the gambit of news sources in the middle of 2009. Since then, the development team has added some pretty interesting info on their webpage. Last Feburary several videos of mosquito flight were posted. These were shot at 6000 fps using specially designed photographic rigs (probably much like this one) to make sure the shots were in focus. Now they’re slated to give a talk at the 2010 TED conference. The publication of these talks sometimes lags behind by several months so be patient. Watch the video after the break to get some abstract shots of the hardware being used; they’re not giving up the goods until the conference.

[Thanks Juan]

Comments

  1. brandonman says:

    Lol, remember the gag of “Oh there’s a mosquito!” smack! Lol, this gives it a whole new level if intrigue.

  2. banjohat says:

    This is so sci-fi.. I like it!

  3. The Ideanator says:

    That is pretty neat, when will it be available at k-mart?

  4. mrpirate says:

    Wouldn’t want to get my eye caught in the crossfire of that thing

  5. tauroid says:

    Very cool stuff… (O_o) makes me want to hack it… got the laser for a cnc… nm i shouldnt it would end badly ftw

  6. Geert says:

    Not to be a picky asshole, but TED 2010 has been held already, and this talk was there too? Or am I mixing things up (don’t think I am)?

  7. sage says:

    I saw an arduino shield

    BURN IT WITH FIRE

  8. andrew says:

    Geert, I think you’re right. I remember reading about the TED talk earlier this year.

  9. Bob Easton says:

    Not wanting to dampen the high tech spirits, but…

    DDT is extremely effective against mosquitoes and lot cheaper than lasers. The banning of DDT was an act of unfounded idiocy (some b’crats were hoodwinked by junk science) that has cost millions of lives. Tens of thousands die of Malaria every year while billionaires think a few tents will help. DDT need to be put to use again, leaving the lasers for more valuable work.

  10. steviest says:

    yes, this is old news by now.

    An one of the stupidest, most inefficient ideas in history. Let’s all give thousand-dollar laser mosquito killers to people who make less than a dollar a day rather than a) food, b) clean water c) basic healthcare and d) mosquito nets which do the job just as well.

    a glorious example of where tech has far escaped the needs of the real world.

  11. LuciusMare says:

    Geeze guys, this is cruel. I prefer to use these sprays that repel mosquitos, rather than mass killing hunderds of them. It works really well, and it does not kill.

  12. David says:

    there was a classic Saturday night live skit with Jane Curtin that featured this exact product.

  13. sdajkl says:

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=TED+2010+mosquito+laser

    the article linked to above (“slated to give a talk…”) is written in the past tense.

    a bit behind the times HAD.

  14. John Berube says:

    so this?

  15. derp says:

    rofl it would be awesome to see some huge laser turret ripping around on top of a tall building to pick off all the mosquitos.
    Or in hat form.

    if this were classified as a ‘using tech for the sake of using tech/awesome’ then it’d be a lot cooler, because there’s no way that could ever be a valid mosquito solution.

    masking this sort of absurdly impractical project as a humanitarian thing annoys me.

  16. charlie says:

    agreed derp. awesome project, but has no humanitarian potential. actually seems more likely to be adapted by govt. to a satellite platform from which to zap dissidents from space.

  17. jon says:

    @LuciusMare

    WTF is wrong with you, wanting to repel and not KILL these vermin? These pests kill and spread more disease around the world than anything.

    I live on the water, and in the spring,summer time, the swarms of these things are insane. Around here you can’t even stay outside a few minutes without being attacked by swarms of these things.

  18. M4CGYV3R says:

    This video is much more entertaining:

  19. ehrichweiss says:

    steviest: umm, the guy was pricing it under $100….

  20. Vasili says:

    I’ve actually seen Nathan Myhrvold giving his TED2010 talk about that device, which zaps mosquitoes out of thin air. It was a pretty neat device, probably quite expensive as a prototype but could be mass-produced fairly cheap. It is able to distinguish only a specific breed of insects, so non-malaria related insects can still pass through. No chemicals, no poisons. Hopefully that TED talk will be released soon, so anyone could see it…

  21. Kender says:

    The Zapper is better at least you can here them fry.

    I liked the RUSH song they were playing

  22. mc says:

    I love it.
    Back in the early 90’s I docuemtned a similar idea (and a lot more!) – using acoustic triangulation of the mosquito / bug – then skewing the emitters to focus the energy in that specific area. Great on paper, but no reward!
    I wish I was there – and more importantly wish I had the project marketing nouse to present these types of exploratory concepts wwhen I develop them. sigh.

  23. Oren Beck says:

    Acoustic Targeting Skeeter Eater= Bat.

  24. Peter says:

    @ehrichweiss
    If I could get one of these for $100 I would buy it in a heartbeat. I don’t get a huge number of mosquitoes here (in the city), but they’re still annoying. Put it on the patio to take out the few that come in too close when I’m out there, or better, in the bedroom to take out that one mosquitoe that flies around your ear then lands somewhere, and you can’t find it.

  25. ZigZagJoe says:

    Damn! my plans, foiled.

    I figured put a IR laser, pulsed, and some sort of camera to look for moving bits. Small moving bits. And pew pew pew. Impractical, highly dangerous, but it would be quite amusing (assuming it could actually hit em).

  26. sarsface says:

    The best part of the video is the guy getting all Getty Lee.

  27. anon says:

    ya, that won’t have an effect on the food chain at all. not a bit.

    face palm.

  28. Greg says:

    I think you guys missed the most obvious question of all concerning this project…

    Where in the world do you get the tens of thousands of mosquitoes that you would surely need to develop, test and demonstrate this thing!?!?!?

    Now that’s the business to be in!

  29. jaded says:

    @steviest,

    They’ve tried distributing mosquito netting, but there was an unintended consequence: mosquito bars make excellent fishing nets. So they get used instead for gathering food. And nets don’t decrease the population of the little demons.

    So sometimes a very specific purpose built device is what is needed, although it still seems cheaper to hand out genuine fishing nets along with the mosquito nets.

    Of course this bug zapper has a dozen other problems: where will these poor people get electricity to power it? How will the production device fare against rain/mud/dust? Who will calibrate it? …

  30. sirblade says:

    If the device works by tracking them using that specific frequency, large scale deployment will probably cause most of the bugs using that frequency to be killed leaving those with other frequencies, after a few years it would be useless as mosquito’s would have evolved variable frequencies or worse, the frequency of the sound of a human snoring…

  31. jeditalian says:

    when does the small woodland creature blasting model come out? jk but if this thing could target and blast mosquitoes at a long range, it would make for an awesome laser show off my back porch.

  32. jeditalian says:

    lol@ TomSawyer .mid playing in the vid. reminds me of when Chuck played Missile Command to the Kill Screen to get the satellite access code or whatever, by listening to the music of the universe (RUSH) chuck vs tom sawyer. i cant find an awesome clip on youtube tho

  33. markii says:

    Can this be adjusted for use on PIGEONS? They are killing me… not getting enough sleep… keep waking me up from 6:00 am… must kill them…

  34. M4CGYV3R says:

    They need to make the base unit mount on a thin pole and slowly rotate, and make it look like the Death Star. Also, fog machines.

    Bats FTW.

  35. Stretch says:

    Can we tune it to the frequency of a fly buzzing as well? Flies piss me off more than mozzies, since there is no malaria in my country.

  36. cmholm says:

    I’ll agree, using lasers to clear out skeeters seems overkill in most situations, but it looks neat. Tally ho!

    Feeding the trolls: Bob Easton is mistaken. DDT is effective, and is still used for that reason. But, like many substances, isn’t something you really wanna go back to spraying all over creation. It’s not junk science, the “millions of deaths” claim is bogus, and cutting back on it ain’t Rachel Carson’s fault. I’d advise a look at the Wikipedia entry.

  37. Plokko says:

    hei,that was my idea but i fryed mah lazor!!!

    damn i’ll have to retry it this summer,i usually have a lot of flyes and mosquitoes in my area!

  38. Flame3230 says:

    I personally cannot wait for this. Down in Louisiana, there are clouds of mosquitoes from February to November. I’m also wondering, could it be re-tuned to target other insects, namely Red and Orange wasps?

  39. barryfzr says:

    I can see mileage in it.. It would make a lot of garden parties better ;o)

  40. Pete says:

    Bats… Even better; bats with laser beams embedded.

  41. John o John says:

    Woot! Tom Sawyer

  42. strider_mt2k says:

    Play some Zep during this and you’ve actually got a decent plane-arium show.

  43. fartface says:

    I prefer a flame thrower. Kill te little bastards en-masse’ and get rid of all that pesky vegatation they breed in (Lawn grass that is well watered breeds mosquitos better than stagnant water.

  44. Johnny says:

    This better become a buyable product. I need one so that I can go outside in the summer.

  45. mbear says:

    In addition to mosquitoes, I’d like to modify one to kill my two least favorite pests:
    1. Houseflies.
    2. Vampires. (I’m so sick of the Twilight sh!t I could scream.)

  46. Eric the Viking says:

    Can this be tuned to our Scottish midge.
    Please lets have hundres of them zapping the place free to sit in peace.

  47. Sam says:

    Kender,

    >The Zapper is better at least you can here them fry.

    Zappers don’t kill mosquitos unless they were to accidentally fly into them. Mosquitos aren’t attracted to light, they’re attracted to CO2. Unfortunately zappers probably kill many beneficial bugs and hardly any pests.

  48. incognito says:

    You had me at “Pew” Pew.

  49. Jack says:

    A way to get out of the “Red Queen”?

    Evolve your way out of this you bloodsuckers.

  50. Kris says:

    As a guy who does a lot of welding & fab work in the midwest, I can tell you I’m way ahead of these people. Its just so entertaining to watch the horrified faces of other people in the shop when you pick one of the lil bastards off your arm with a plasma cutter…

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