Microsoft is not only interested in cannabis, but mosquitoes as well. The American computer company has partnered with a community in Texas (southern United States) to test a technology using artificial intelligence to fight disease-carrying insects.They created a smart mosquito trap.
Microsoft has launched the Premonition project to combat the spread of infectious diseases like Zika through technology. The company has just revealed one of its prototypes, a trap, able to block a mosquito carrying danger. Other insects could pass them without problem.
Differentiate species according to their wing beats
The pitfalls developed by Microsoft are able to differentiate mosquito species according to their wing beats and make “selective” catches, which allow scientists considerable time to test different insect populations. By using machine learning, the device can also learn over time to differentiate new species.
The technology will soon be tested in Texas, in Harris County, near Houston, whose authorities have been seduced by the idea. “For a scientist, it’s like a dream,” exclaims Mustapha Debboun, director of the Mosquito Control Department of this community, which is as big as half of Corsica. “In a county of this size, we do not have the resources to eliminate mosquitoes with insecticides,” he says.
First, ten traps will be distributed in the county, able to measure and transmit the climatic conditions of the place where they are at the time of mosquito capture. Microsoft hopes later to set up drones able to identify areas of concentration of mosquitoes and carry traps.
A smart mosquito trap capable of sorting insects
A smart trap for mosquitoes. We are very far from Grandma’s methods to block mosquitoes on the terrace in the summer. Microsoft’s ambitious project could save thousands of lives.
“The trap works like a real biologist on the ground. He is able to choose which insects he wants to capture, “explains Ethan Jackson, the head of the Microsoft research team. Among the diseases targeted by this smart trap, we find Zika or even malaria.
The trap consists of 64 cells with infrared light. When a mosquito goes into its field of action, a print output related to the species appears. If it is “Aedes aegypti”, the main bearer of Zika, he is then captured. It is then analyzed to see if it is infected or not.
The effectiveness of the project remains to be proven once deployed on a large scale since it is still only tests. But it has the advantage of being rather economical. A classic trap can today cost up to $ 350 and Microsoft should not cost more. In a test conducted last summer in Texas, he was able to accurately identify over 90% of the insects that passed nearby.
Mosquito versus high-tech
This is not the first time that connected objects are imagined as a solution to fight against mosquito-borne diseases. In February 2016, faced with the spread of the Zika epidemic, scientists had developed a wearable. OFF! Clip-On sold for 10 euros in pharmacies, was to repel mosquitoes. For this, he sent vapors of the repellent product through the bracelet and a small integrated battery fan. A cloud of product was formed around the person, protecting it from mosquito attacks.
In addition, Microsoft had already launched a project to fight against malaria in 2015. It was also part of “Premonition”. The idea? , a drone with robotic traps should be created to track down these insects, capture them and take a blood sample.