A recently developed tool has been announced that will be able to track and shoot mosquitoes in midair using lasers. The device was demonstrated recently, and claims that it can use an intense highly trained laser attached to an automated laser turret defense system to not only track the movements of mosquitoes, but zap them from a distance. In addition to being an incredibly futuristic pest control system, the mosquito laser defense system is expected to help reduce the death rate in countries where malaria death rates are staggering.
The futuristic system, developed by Intellectual Ventures, is creating quite a buzz after the demonstration showed a lower intensity version of the laser pluck a mosquito out of the sky with all the precision and ease of the best developed missile defense system. With a quick flash of light the mosquito fell as a considerable portion of its body disappeared with a puff of smoke. Those who said Intellectual Ventures was a company that wouldn’t hurt a fly were in for a surprise when the device was unveiled before amazed onlookers.
It works on a similar principle as the Reagan era “Star Wars” laser defense system created in the 1980s with the intention of destroying incoming nuclear warheads before they could be armed and detonate if they were ever launched at the United States. Of course the Star Wars program met with several problems, due to treaties as well as the fact that many nuclear weapons would be moving at speeds far in excess to those Star Wars was at the time capable of tracking. Of course mosquitoes, as it turns out, are far easier to track and zap.
The system may sound excessive, but Intellectual Ventures says the device would be created using only readily available parts and claims it can create the devices for far less than even traditional mosquito repelling systems. In design, the devices could be placed around hospitals and villages where malaria often reaches devastating record levels. In addition to being deadly accurate, the system is fast. According to Nathan Myhrvold, the system can track and shoot down 100 mosquitoes within its range per second. If the system works as well in the field as its proponents claim it does, it may be a solution to one of the world’s most devastating infectious diseases.
Worldwide over 300 million people are affected by malaria, while it claims the lives of between one and one and a half million people per year. The areas most affected by this devastating disease are Africa, Asia, and Latin America. With no vaccine currently available, it is a constant threat to millions, affecting quality of life and putting strain on medical resources as well as aid groups. Though some drugs have been developed to combat the disease, recently strains have become more resistant to drug treatments. Since the primary method of infection in humans is through mosquito bites, there is a constant push for cheaper and better means of mosquito control.