Tasmanian Mosquito (Wikipedia) Wikipedia
Tasmanian Mosquito (Wikipedia)

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Mosquitoes have killed many more humans than all wars in history. Now, an Israeli startup is fighting back.

By David E. Kaplan, Lay Of The Land

Many Israelis are alive today ONLY because of the country’s penchant for finding solutions to existential problems. A classic example is the ‘Iron Dome’ – a mobile all-weather air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets from 4 kilometers to 70 kilometers away and whose trajectory would take them to an area populated with Israeli civilians.

Its success has been proven in battle. The Iron Dome hits 90% of rockets aimed at populated areas.

However, there are “populated areas” all over the world  under daily threat for incoming aerial attacks of a totally different kind – the dreaded mosquito, and Israeli ingenuity have these critters now firmly ‘in their sights.’

Mosquitoes have killed many more humans than all wars in history.

It is the most dangerous creature in Africa responsible for killing more Africans than any other through the spread of malaria, dengue and other diseases. Malaria kills over a million on the African continent every year, most of these are children under the age of five.

While the threat in Israel is less lethal, they are super annoying. Who is unfamiliar with them buzzing around your bed keeping you awake all night with their infernal whining sound as they dive into attack like the once-feared WWII German Stuka dive bomber!

For those that penetrate your ‘Home Guard” defense system – from protective clothing,  mosquito repellents, mosquito killer lamps to even eating garlic – the aftermath of an assault results in bites, itches, endless scratching, and finally sores  or what I describe as “my battle scars!”

The best defense against mosquitoes is making sure they can’t get to your skin and an Israeli start-up Bzigo has developed a device that scans and locates the biting insects in a room, sending a message to a phone app allowing you to easily kill them.  A future model will be capable of eliminating them as well!

This is like a computer game, but for real!

Action Stations

Developed over three years, the Bzigo device looks like a box, the size of a compact smartphone, that can be connected to the wall or stand-alone on a flat surface. It uses an infrared camera that marks the mosquito’s exact location with a red laser, once it lands, providing the essential ‘intelligence’ to the disgruntled humans to kill them.

Although, the current model only helps locate the mosquito, Bzigo CEO, Nadav Benedek says “we are working a future model that will be able to eliminate the mosquito on its own. In reality, killing a mosquito is the easy part – the real challenge is in detecting them. Mosquitoes are adept at avoiding human vision, attacking us when we don’t notice them. But, once you know a mosquito is in the room and see where it landed, killing it is simple.”

The technology is based on an algorithm that can detect the movements of a mosquito with a wide-angle high-resolution camera that constantly photographs the walls and ceiling of a room to locate the pest, before sending a message via WiFi to the homeowner’s smartphone.

The brains behind this potential “Iron Dome” against mosquitoes is Saar Wilf, 45, and company CEO Nadav Benedek, 38, both of whom served in the elite IDF intelligence unit 8200. They are trained to zero in on the enemy and, firmly in their cross-hairs, is the mosquito.

“To date, we have carried out hundreds of tests with live mosquitoes,” says Benedek. “At first, Saar would spend hours trapping them with containers and nets, but then we found a supplier from the Emek Hefer region.”

Asked by YNET why they chose to focus on mosquitoes, Wilf replied that “anyone with a technological inclination has, at some point in their life, thought to find a technological solution to this annoying problem; we were just persistent.”

Benedek described how growing up in the central Israeli town of Pardes Hana, the home was surrounded by netting and recollects how “my Dad always checked my room before bedtime in summer for ten minutes to find and kill mosquitoes.”

The Tel Aviv based start-up assures that its device is safe to use near children, food and in hospitals and, although the initial model is made for home use, the plan is to produce a model suitable for industrial use, such as to kill pests on farms and in hothouses.

The device is expected to be available on the market in 2021 and will sell for about $170.

Mosquitoes don’t play fair: They target some people more than others and I am one of them and welcome any addition to my arsenal to take on these critters.

Whatever it takes, the battle is on.