Saurabh and Nidhi have created a device for real-time detection of mosquito species and gender and informing authorities about an outbreak before it happens
Mosquitoes are arguably one of the deadliest animals in the world. According to the World Health Information, ‘Their ability to carry and spread the disease to humans causes millions of deaths every year. In 2015 malaria alone caused 438,000 deaths. The worldwide incidence of dengue has risen 30-fold in the past 30 years, and more countries are reporting their first outbreaks of the disease. Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever are all transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.’ Their effect is equally rampant in India. In 2017, India accounted for 4% of the total malaria cases. With such a malevolent crisis looming, the government, and the general populace, at large can do with any form of support they can get. This is where two, 20-year old Engineering students from the Army Institute of Technology, Pune came up with an unlikely solution.
“I remember reading an article about a tribe in Africa wherein the members of the tribe could identify the gender and species of a mosquito with their naked eye. They would fill a bowl with glue and put it atop a tree in the night. A couple of days later, some mosquitoes in the vicinity would get stuck. The tribe members would identify the mosquito. This gave them an edge when it came to prevention and utilizing preventive methods”, recalls 20-year old Saurabh, part of the duo at Army Institute of Technology, Pune who came up with an ingenious solution of their own based on this story.
“If the tribe can detect the mosquito with their naked eye and adjudge preventive measures against diseases, we can technology to have similar predictions on a larger scale. That is what led us to our innovation,” says Saurabh. Saurabh and Nidhi are classmates who have created a device that can detect, in real-time, the species and the gender of a mosquito and can alert the authorities and people of that high-risk areas before people get affected by vector-borne diseases. Starting their research in 2018, the primary idea and motive of the innovation were to involve intelligent devices and IoT technologies to create “Heatmaps” of Mosquito population in specific areas, which can lead to precision defogging and spraying, and substantial saving of public money. “The device is cylindrical and about 3 feet in height. The device mechanism emits CO2 and a fragrance similar to the fragrance in humans. Because of it, the mosquitoes are attracted to the device. When the mosquitoes get near the device, a fan inside the machine starts working and that sucks the mosquitoes in. With the help of the 3 microphones in the device, it records the voice emanating from the mosquito. The device then processes the voice and then detects the species and the gender of the mosquitoes. The plan is to use 50-100 devices in a city, creating a geographic indication of the density, type of mosquitoes, and the probable diseases they might carry”, says Saurabh.[infobox]
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The duo of Saurabh and Nidhi plan to bring out another two iterations of their device, one for consumers at large and one for the authorities. “Since the device works with the principle of air suction technology, similar technology is found in air purifiers. So, to entice a normal household for the product, we would also be pitching this as an air purifier, along with its function that recognizes the species and gender of a mosquito. The plan is to offer it to both the general populace and the municipal corporations. The size of the new model would be reduced by 50% and would be fitted on street lamps. The municipal corporation would be able to disperse the right kind of chemicals and combative measures to tackle the epidemic of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also develop immunity and the sound of the mosquito made by wings. We would keep on updating the database, so the change in wingbeat frequency doesn’t change the device and it doesn’t make any errors.”, Saurabh reiterates.
For their work, Saurabh and Nidhi won the Impact Prize – Special mention of the 3M – CII Young Innovators Challenge Award 2019. The award not only validates the prudence and applicability of their idea but also highlights the passion of a bunch of 20-year olds who are trying to solve such a relevant health problem.
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