Mosquitoes can turn a pleasant summer barbecue into a somewhat miserable experience. They're also responsible for spreading malaria to 250 million people around the world each year.
Common mosquito repellants include sprays, some of which contain chemicals such as DEET , and bed nets that keep the insects at bay.
There are also mosquito traps. One such device is the Mega-Catch Trap, which comes in three models selling online for $84 to $658. According to the manufacturer, these traps act as decoys, in a sense. They send out signals that mosquitoes associate with blood-pumping humans, which attracts these insects to the trap where they die.
But sprays and traps don't completely eliminate the problem.
Intellectual Ventures, a company based in Bellevue, Wash., that invents and invests in inventions, has come up with another solution.
"Let's try to kill it with consumer electronics," said former chief technology officer at Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold, at a TED talk held in May 2010. Using technologies found in off-the-shelf electronics, such as a Blu-ray player, a laser printer and a digital camera, Myhrvold and his team have done just that.
Their high-tech solution could create a pseudo-fence around your yard, killing mosquitoes as they attempted to pay a visit to your barbecue, according to Myhrvold. The system is made with two types of lasers. The first laser is non-lethal to mosquitoes and is used to detect the wing beat frequency of the insect an insect "fingerprint" of sorts. If the laser detects a frequency that matches that of a female mosquito, the second laser, which is lethal to mosquitoes, will zap the bug. (Mosquitoes need human blood only to produce eggs, so only female mosquitoes bite.)
While this mosquito-zapping fence isn't for sale yet, according to missile defense expert Jordin Kare, you can build your own system for a few thousand dollars. Kare explains the DIY method in the May issue of IEEE Spectrum.
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