Malaria – a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes – kills nearly 1 million people each year. Bed nets and insecticides have helped keep the disease in check in many parts of the world, but more tools are needed to limit contact between humans and mosquitoes. Intellectual Ventures’ photonic fence invention adds a new layer of protection by coupling low-cost camera and laser technology with software developed at Intellectual Ventures Laboratory.
The device creates a virtual fence that detects insects as they cross its plane. Once detected, the photonic fence uses the insect’s wing beat to determine if it’s a mosquito, identify if that mosquito is female (only females bite humans), and then shoot the mosquito out of the sky with a laser. Photonic fence devices could be set along the perimeter of villages or buildings to control mosquito populations without interfering with human traffic. IV is also exploring alternative applications for the photonic fence, including protection for crops against pests and as a research tool to better-understand insects.
Scientists at IV Lab have developed a working prototype of the photonic fence to demonstrate its feasibility. Their focus now is on refining the device for use in developing countries. To learn more about the photonic fence, visit the IV Lab website.