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First Automatic Identification of Flying Insects Allows Hi-Tech Bug Zapping

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the detect-and-destroy dept.

Shark 99

KentuckyFC writes "Entomologists have never been able to identify flying insects automatically. But not through lack of trying. The obvious approach is to listen out for the frequency of the wing beat. But acoustic microphones aren't up to the job because sound intensity drops with the square of the distance, so flying insects quickly drop out of range. Now a group of researchers has solved this problem using a laser beam pointing at a photosensitive array. Any insect flying through the beam casts a shadow of its beating wings that can easily be recorded at distances of several meters. Using this new device, the team has created a dataset of millions of wing beat recordings, more than all previous recordings put together. And they've used the dataset to train a Bayesian classifier algorithm to identify flying insects automatically for the first time. That opens the prospect of a new generation of bug zappers that kill only certain insects or just females rather than males. That could have a big impact on human health since mosquitoes and other flying insects kill millions of people each year. It could also help in agriculture where insects threaten billions of dollars worth of crops."

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And the product name? (3, Funny)

cold fjord (826450) | about 6 months ago | (#46524559)

The Dalek Bug Death Ray?

Re:And the product name? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#46524675)

Exterminate!
Exterminate!

Hey, wait, what will all the pest control companies do?

Re:And the product name? (1)

Traze (1167415) | about 6 months ago | (#46524985)

Become bug zapper repairmen. Also, rodent and creeping bug removers.

Love Bites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46525001)

Measuring wing beats? I'm baffled. It this article real, or is it a movie review?

Was the doctor fucking a hot 15 year old Traci Lords?

Re:And the product name? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46525361)

A few years ago, somebody (I don't remember who) came up with a laser bug zapper that could shoot down flies and mosquitoes. It was accurate, but I doubt it was very discriminatory.

Couple it with this, and you could have a selective bug zapper that only killed "bad" insects.

Though I think OP's idea of only killing female mosquitoes (because they're the ones that bite) is misguided. Male mosquitoes lead to more female mosquitoes. If there is one insect that I think could safely (and even beneficially) be eliminated from the planet, mosquitoes would be them.

If you expand insects to other arthropods, I'd just as soon get rid of ticks, too. But they don't fly.

Re:And the product name? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46525403)

Meh. Grammar.

s/mosquitoes would be them/the mosquito would be it

Re:And the product name? (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#46525635)

It only takes one male to fertilize countless females. If you want to eliminate a species, you focus your efforts on the females, not the males. We could lose 90% of the human male population tomorrow and our population would be back to normal in a generation or less. If we lost 90% of the human female population, it'd take centuries to get back to our present population. Males simply don't affect population much; kill off a bunch, and the remaining ones have more sex partners.

Re:And the product name? (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 months ago | (#46526391)

"It only takes one male to fertilize countless females. If you want to eliminate a species, you focus your efforts on the females, not the males. We could lose 90% of the human male population tomorrow and our population would be back to normal in a generation or less. If we lost 90% of the human female population, it'd take centuries to get back to our present population. Males simply don't affect population much; kill off a bunch, and the remaining ones have more sex partners."

That's true of humans, not mosquitoes. The reason is the low birth rate of humans. But mosquitoes breed prolifically.

It is true that males can fertilize many females. But because of their high birth rate, this means that killing off the females does not restrict the population for long. At most a few months.

But kill off the males -- or better yet, as they have done with both mosquitoes and flies sterilize the males but let them mate -- and they produce no offspring.

That's why most fly and mosquito eradication programs focus on the males.

Re:And the product name? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#46526735)

But mosquitoes breed prolifically.

Yes, but even so, female insects can only make so many eggs at a time. Male insects aren't limited to how many females they can fertilize. But I guess the ultimate question is: what's the biggest limiter of population in mosquitos? Obviously it's something environmental, not their birth rate.

But still, my point is, if you just kill off males, you're not doing as much damage as killing off females; the remaining males will just mate more. Now if you sterilize the males so they continue to "mate", this will have a big effect, since the neutered males will still be competing with the normal ones, keeping them from breeding as much. So if that's what the eradication programs are doing, that makes perfect sense. But just eliminating males doesn't seem to make much sense at all to me for the reasons stated above.

Re:And the product name? (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about 6 months ago | (#46527991)

Not an entomologist, but it seems you have some awfully mammalian assumptions here.

Re:And the product name? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#46528097)

I'm not an entomologist either, so you could be right. Still, even though insects lay eggs instead of gestating, I'd think there's a maximum capacity to how many eggs a female can produce in a given timespan, even if she's surrounded by males.

Re:And the product name? (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 6 months ago | (#46529011)

Just kill both sexes of the species we'd like to eliminate! Exterminate! There's no reason to be selective.

Re:And the product name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46530387)

If we lost 90% of the human female population, it'd take centuries to get back to our present population.

Is that presuming current actual birthrate or a theoretical "need to repopulate the species" situation?

If we pretend there are 1 million total people, then 500K women. Losing 90% of them, 50K left.

If we presume an even age distribution, and let's say life span of 80...
1/8 are 0-9 years old
1/8 are 10-19 years old ...
1/8 are 71-80 years old

Lets say only those 20-40 are fertile (I guess it's really closer to 15-35, but still 20 years).

That's 12500 women able to have children. At a baby a year (people have seen real examples of a woman having another kid soon after having one), that's replenishing the 500K in 40 years. Obviously some women are aging out/dying on one end and aging in on the other end.

Obviously I made a zillion assumptions here, but I think I did a bunch on both sides (over and under-estimating things), which I think evens out.

Obviously this wouldn't actually happen like this, but I meant in a real "baby making machine" situation. Seems like it _could_ be far less than "centuries" if we had another black plague or somesuch.

Re:And the product name? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 6 months ago | (#46531313)

Try 13 to 50. So, more like 37 years.

Re:And the product name? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#46532329)

There's some problems with your assumptions (though they might even out some as you said); women are fertile more years than that, though the level of fertility is much lower in older women and there's higher risks of problems. (I'll also assume we haven't lost our medical technology here, so no more risk of a woman dying in childbirth than now.) Also, while some women are highly fertile and can have a baby a year, not all are; many aren't very fertile at all and have a hard time conceiving. Also, not all women are going to want to pump out babies continuously; having children is very hard on a woman's body, and not all women are like Ms. Duggar, able to keep up a high birthrate for decades. So in more real-world numbers, where the entire population hasn't suddenly decided to go into extreme baby-making mode, it's going to take more than 40 years, though perhaps not multiple centuries.

However, my prior assumption was that the birthrate wouldn't be radically changed, maybe just increased a reasonable amount to account for the sudden lack of population (e.g. women decide they want to have an average of 4 children instead of 1.6). In that case, it would take multiple centuries (or more) to recover the population level, whereas with 90% of men disappearing, it wouldn't take that long at all.

Actually... The Paraguay war proves this is wrong (2)

gwolf (26339) | about 6 months ago | (#46535301)

In the 1860s, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay allied in a war against Paraguay [wikipedia.org] . This war caused the death of ~60% of the Paraguayan population, including ~90% of its adult males. The social effects are still present today, over 140 years later: The country is the most machist in Latin America (which is not an easy feat!), because it became not only normal but positive for a man to have several women. Of course, it also destroyed Paraguayan economy, and to this day, Paraguay is the poorest country in South America.
Of course, this says very little of what would happen by killing all mosquito males or females. But since when does a Slashdot discussion need to stay on topic? ;-)

Re:And the product name? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 6 months ago | (#46526441)

Well, mosquitos are probably pollinators as well as well as an important food source for lots of other creatures, so killing them all is going to have side effects. Plus there's the whole ethical issue of killing beings that not only have done you no harm, but are incapable of doing you harm - should you be the sort that concerns yourself with such things.

Meanwhile there isn't a sexually monogamous animal on Earth (plenty pair-bond monogamously, but that's a completely separate issue), so just like stray cats as long as a few males survive you're going to have plenty of mosquitoes in the next generation, it's only the size of the fertile female population that has much impact on the size of the next generation. About the only thing you can do to males to have an effect are things like the plans to release large numbers of sterile males (so the females are less likely to mate with fertile males) or, if you're looking to commit genocide, do something a bit more involved like releasing a few males that have been genetically modified so that all their offspring will also be male (and at least mostly inherit the same quality).

Re:And the product name? (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 6 months ago | (#46529025)

Mosquitoes are not pollinators. They can and do harm us and often they're not native to the areas where they are biting us. Besides, we're not talking about eradicating them from their whole range, just killing the ones near us/our crops.

Re:And the product name? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 6 months ago | (#46531429)

Are you sure mosquitoes aren't pollinators? Most plants are pretty good at getting their pollen to stick to the insects that feed on their nectar. And *male* mosquitoes are harmless - they lack the mouth-parts to be able to bite us even if they wanted to. Killing them accomplishes nothing - the mostly don't even generate that annoying buzzing sound when they fly.

Re:And the product name? (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 6 months ago | (#46538831)

I stand corrected, they do pollinate. I'd still kill them all near me. It shouldn't really damage their population. Many are introduced here in Australia anyway. Perhaps it will apply selection pressure for mozzies that don't go near human habitation!

Re:And the product name? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 6 months ago | (#46526815)

Though I think OP's idea of only killing female mosquitoes (because they're the ones that bite) is misguided. Male mosquitoes lead to more female mosquitoes. If there is one insect that I think could safely (and even beneficially) be eliminated from the planet, mosquitoes would be them.

Except I think mosquitos, as annoying as they are, are still part of the food chain and are still food to a number of other more useful insects and animals, including spiders and frogs. And the larvae are eaten by a few water animals as well.

Re:And the product name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46527623)

What's wrong with killing them all and letting God sort them out?

Similar to... (2)

somsip (2881563) | about 6 months ago | (#46524609)

http://www.techdirt.com/blog/i... [techdirt.com] Just for info. Not trying to dispute whether the article refers to a true 'first' or not.

potential evolution experiement (4, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | about 6 months ago | (#46524621)

It will select against all species members with characteristic audio signature allowing the non-charcteristic to breed. Kind of like the explosion of silent rattlesnakes. [newser.com] Hunters have killed the noisy ones.

Re:potential evolution experiement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46525025)

And once the machine is adjusted to compensate... the cycle will continue, until mosquitos are flightless!

Re:potential evolution experiement (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#46525413)

It will select against all species members with characteristic audio signature allowing the non-charcteristic to breed.

Software can adapt much faster than DNA.

Old Old Old (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524637)

This was done years ago. You set setup cameras, a light, and a white strip of paper along a doorway or something similar. The cameras watch for a small shadow, the software calculates the bug's location, and a quick laser zap burns off the bug's wings.

There's also that awesome Star Wars mosquito laser defense system,

Re:Old Old Old (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 6 months ago | (#46524677)

That's not at all what they're doing.

In your case, they're just killing anything with wings. The summary makes it pretty clear that the laser is only used to cast a shadow to identify what flying nuisance machine it is. It's the difference shooting everything in sight and only shooting hippies/commies/terrorists/bad guy of the day.

Re:Old Old Old (1)

The Eight-Bit Link (2447312) | about 6 months ago | (#46524751)

But what AC left off was the system with the reflective strip [makezine.com] also has an 'acoustic microphone' for finding the wing frequency. It uses the infrared illumination to find the location of a bug flying through it, then uses a low-powered laser to determine the wing frequency, followed by a shot from a high-powered laser if the detected bug is on the blacklist.

Re:Old Old Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524797)

So we're comparing the Duke Nukem model to the Rambo model?

Re:Old Old Old (3, Informative)

nospam007 (722110) | about 6 months ago | (#46525531)

"In your case, they're just killing anything with wings. The summary makes it pretty clear that the laser is only used to cast a shadow to identify what flying nuisance machine it is."

The list of insects I would allow entering my house is rather short.

Re:Old Old Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46525617)

NSA surveillance drones?

Re:Old Old Old (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46526853)

The list of insects I would allow entering my house is rather short.

You keep insects out of a house with screens. But how do you keep only unwanted insects out of your garden, or for that matter, off of your patio? Your patio veg would appreciate some pollination, thanks.

Re:Old Old Old (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | about 6 months ago | (#46527745)

The list of insects I would allow entering my house is rather short.

Agreed. But since I they come in anyway, I have arrived at an uneasy truce with the spiders. (no dangerous spiders in this area)

Re:Old Old Old (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46524761)

Slashdot: not even reading the summary since at least 2003. Probably longer.

Millions of people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524657)

...Flying insects kill millions of people each year. ...what? This goes beyond hyperbole.

Re:Millions of people. (3, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 6 months ago | (#46524687)

I think they mean flying insects carry diseases that kill thousands or millions of people. Not necessarily the insects directly kill people like a bad SyFymovie.

malaria, for instance (4, Informative)

Chirs (87576) | about 6 months ago | (#46525219)

According to the WHO, malaria (spread by mosquitoes) killed between 473000 and 789000 people in 2012. Add in a few more similar diseases and it could plausibly be "millions of people".

Re:Millions of people. (2)

penix1 (722987) | about 6 months ago | (#46524853)

...Flying insects kill millions of people each year. ...what? This goes beyond hyperbole.

Even if it wasn't, our constant struggle to defy nature is astounding. The thing is, nature will always win. Death is inevitable and frankly, things like disease and famine are natures way of population control. Just look at some of the modern day diseases and their resistance to antibiotics for an example of nature getting around the problem. Until humans can face the fact that death is around the corner, the more waste of time and resources we have trying to outwit nature. Just because we can do a thing doesn't mean we should. We have no idea how this technology will upset the balance nature has struck. Wiping out an insect species may very well wipe out others that depend on them for food. Eventually, that can lead right up the food chain to us.

It will be interesting to see how nature gets around this problem.

Re:Millions of people. (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 months ago | (#46525197)

Just because death is inevitable doesn't mean we should stop fighting against it. Suppose you were diagnosed with a disease that was fatal if untreated but that could be cured with a month of uncomfortable/painful treatment. Would you opt not to treat it because death is inevitable anyway? Or would you treat it to extend your life knowing that you are going to die at some point even if the treatment is successful?

Re:Millions of people. (1)

penix1 (722987) | about 6 months ago | (#46525691)

That depends on the quality of life I will have after the treatment and what is involved in the treatment in the first place. If the quality of life goes below my standards, then yes, I would refuse treatment and live life to the fullest for the time I have left. If the treatment is worse than the disease then yes, I again would refuse treatment and live what life I have left to its fullest.

Re:Millions of people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46525315)

Nature isn't an intelligent actor. As such there is no "intelligent balance" for it to strike because there is no "it".

And if you are into the "nature as intelligent actor" thing then just sit back and wait for insects to evolve laser defences. We evolved to the point where we can zap insects with lasers so apparently "nature" wants us to do so.

Re:Millions of people. (1)

penix1 (722987) | about 6 months ago | (#46525729)

Nobody said nature was "intelligent". It is resilient though. And if it was advantageous for a species to survive to have laser defenses, then that is what will happen in some form or the species will go extinct. In both cases upstream dependent species will be effected.

Re:Millions of people. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 months ago | (#46525645)

If you want to forgo vaccinations and medical treatment, go right ahead.

Re:Millions of people. (1)

penix1 (722987) | about 6 months ago | (#46525769)

In some cases I have. For example, I stopped trying to rid myself of the flu virus through the totally ineffective flu vaccine. Haven't had a single instance of the flu in the ten years I stopped getting the vaccine. But the thousands of strains of the flu virus is exactly the kind of mutations I am talking about. Nature will always find a way.

Re:Millions of people. (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about 6 months ago | (#46528017)

Frankly, you're not impressing anyone with your tough-nose naturalism. Mosquito bites me because that's it's nature. I murder mosquito with prejudice as often as I can because that's my nature.

Re:Millions of people. (1)

jcochran (309950) | about 6 months ago | (#46524885)

Might want to take a look at this ... When I saw the AC's comment, I couldn't help but remember this. http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff... [purrsia.com]

Re:Millions of people. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 6 months ago | (#46526511)

You and me both.

AKA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524663)

a bird. Technology has its limits, just use nature's solutions. Oh but that isn't 3D printed in space with open source software.

Re:AKA (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 6 months ago | (#46524835)

This targets specific insects, and has no feeding requirements. Birds which are fed enough millet won't bother insects; birds which are underfed will consume the population wholesale and then starve off, limiting effectiveness. Getting birds to control the insect population is difficult.

Bug zappers may kill 2000 insects, with a dozen being biting insects and the rest being beneficial insects like ladybugs and dragonflies. The same goes for birds. This technology attempts to blacklist mosquitoes, leaving other insects alive.

Re:AKA (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 6 months ago | (#46528269)

And killing a bunch of mosquitoes will mess up something in the food chain. Can we stop playing God with nature?

Re:AKA (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 6 months ago | (#46529081)

I don't think protecting our fields/homes will seriously damage the food webs over the whole range of the species. Besides, this will allow much reduced use of pesticides, benefiting the whole environment, and the farmers through reduced costs. We can also target pests of bees, we desperately need to protect our bees so that they can pollinate our crops. This system can target small hive beetle etc and directly benefit us.

Re:AKA (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 6 months ago | (#46543447)

If we kill enough mosquitoes and other insects so we can allow "much reduced use of pesticides", it means we killed enough to mess something up in the food chain. As for the bees, nature will make sure another species takes over...

Re:AKA (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 6 months ago | (#46547705)

Only locally. As for the bees, a small change could be very bad for us. Asian honey bees are undomesticatable, they do pollinate, but may be very hard to deal with in fields/gardens. There are so many insects that our controlling them in local areas will not be a large impact. I'd like to see this tech extended to rodents and pest birds. Insects and rodents eat more of our food than we do, one could argue that we have artificially inflated the population of many species. I think we have the right to locally defend our areas. I also think we need to reduce our population to about 4 billion.....

Been here before (1)

The Eight-Bit Link (2447312) | about 6 months ago | (#46524665)

How is this different than a similar method of identifying bugs from a few years ago mentioned in Make Magazine? [makezine.com]

Population Bomb (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 6 months ago | (#46524667)

With human reproduction as out of hand as it is we may need all those nasty bugs to eat. Malaria might actually help humanity by exterminating excess population of humans.

Re:Population Bomb (2)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about 6 months ago | (#46525887)

In practice, this isn't true. Insecurity leads to high birth rates. People who aren't sure whether their children will survive compensate by having a lot of kids.

Murderers!!! (2)

hodet (620484) | about 6 months ago | (#46524673)

Now how do I get one for my backyard? :-)

More screwing with Mother Nature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524709)

What could *possibily* go wrong?

OMG Sexism! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524713)

Kill just the females? Someone make sure that these sexist pigs lose their funding!

What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 6 months ago | (#46524725)

Let's see, an automated laser that can fry bugs from several meters away based on learned heuristics in an optimal
environment and then presumably ment to operate within close proximity of humans.
What happens when this system overshoots it's target or misidentifies some random body part or body accessory as
a target?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 months ago | (#46524771)

Keep it all in a 2d plane with grates on it, like a bug zapper. I haven't heard of any bug zapper deaths, though I have faith that the crowd here at Slashdot will find an example.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | about 6 months ago | (#46524825)

I haven't heard of any bug zapper deaths, though I have faith that the crowd here at Slashdot will find an example.

My brother's girlfriend's nephew's cousin swallowed one whole. As soon as he plugged it in, game over.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 months ago | (#46524903)

I really don't know.

[Quietly takes down laser bug zapper from across the street from KOMO helipad.]

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

amorsen (7485) | about 6 months ago | (#46527147)

You have a bug zapper which is able to detect not only distinguish a mosquito from a fly but also distinguish a male mosquito from a female mosquito. You are worried that it will be unable to tell the difference between you and a mosquito.

I do not know what to say to that.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 6 months ago | (#46528379)

You have a bug zapper which is able to detect not only distinguish a mosquito from a fly but also distinguish a male mosquito from a female mosquito. You are worried that it will be unable to tell the difference between you and a mosquito.

I do not know what to say to that.

You don't think a fluttering piece of paper, fabric, etc... might not eventually cause a false positive?
Also, unlike in star wars, lasers don't actually stop after a short distance. If you are using them to
either target and/or kill the target, they will eventually miss or go right through, etc... A backdrop
would solve the problem but then that kindof defeats the advantage of being able to identify them
from several meters away.

Sexist Pig! (2)

Bigbutt (65939) | about 6 months ago | (#46524733)

That opens the prospect of a new generation of bug zappers that kill only certain insects or just females rather than males.

Males are the throwaway gender. Need to get the egg bearing females to reduce the population. Then the males will fight over the remaining females until they're also reduced.

Win-Win!

[John ]

Re:Sexist Pig! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524891)

Unless you have a LOT of these machines it won't amount to any change because females exist elsewhere. Unless they don't migrate, I can't see how this will be effective.

I've always liked the idea of neutralizing the "process" (e.g. spade/neuter) so the numbers are the same, except they have a lot of false targets. I've seen this work on several species.

Re:Sexist Pig! (1)

Anonymice (1400397) | about 6 months ago | (#46525579)

I suspect this is more in reference to mosquitoes. It's only the females that drink blood & transfer diseases.
Still, my first thought was...why bother? Just kill 'em all.

Re:Sexist Pig! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46525485)

Only the female Anopheles mosquito transmits malaria to humans; the males don't need blood to feed their eggs.

Re:Sexist Pig! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46527555)

The males should shoulder the same responsibility, regardless of biological minutiae. It is not like the females decide to be female.

Re:Sexist Pig! (1)

lhunath (1280798) | about 6 months ago | (#46525599)

Only female mosquitos suck blood. Therefore, only the females are a health threat to humans.

Re:Sexist Pig! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46527515)

Another LIE by the patriarchy!

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Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524777)

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Related TED Talk (1)

richtopia (924742) | about 6 months ago | (#46524783)

This is a good watch, although it is not in relation to the shadow detection of insects. It is discussing the laser based insect control but it is still frequency based for identification:

https://www.ted.com/talks/nath... [ted.com]

Re:Related TED Talk (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 6 months ago | (#46525107)

I really like that talk, and considered building one for my sometimes mosquito-ey back yard. Unfortunately, the laser bit is a problem. It's actually quite powerful. The DIY versions use a surplus tank laser rangefinder which is very not eye-safe. Blinding the neighbors or the dogs seems like a bad idea. There are "eye safe" lasers, but that just means you dump all the energy into the cornea, not the retina. I don't know if that would hurt, injure, or cause long term damage. Also, buying one of them of sufficient power is $XXXX. I thought perhaps of aiming it only such that it always hits the ground inside my yard, but then some shiny bit of metal ends up in my yard and I have the blinding the neighbors problem again.

In short, cool idea with lots of problems. I'd still love to have one.

Re:Related TED Talk (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 6 months ago | (#46529131)

Put it up on high poles and allow it to only shoot down into the ground/fence and wear protective glasses when you must go out there. Or turn it off before going out. Farmers wear all sorts of PPE now, they're not going to mind new sunnies! Have to put up signs on fields/yards...... There must be frequencies that are eye safe.....

Refinement of previously demonstrated tech? (1)

Hattmannen (658936) | about 6 months ago | (#46524867)

This sound very much like a continuation and refinement of technology demonstrated a few years back that could identify mosquitoes and differentiate between males and females to only zap the females.
I remember seeing this [ted.com] TED talk some time back where they had constructed a working rig. At least working under laboratory conditions. Is that the precursor of this?

Re:Refinement of previously demonstrated tech? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 6 months ago | (#46526049)

I instantly thought of that talk too. They were essentially doing this many years ago.

Solved hundreds of years ago: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46524955)

"Kill them all, let God decide."

oblig (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 6 months ago | (#46524963)

Here come the mosquitos with frikking lasers strapped to their heads!

Or,
Can we adapt this to identify hot female humans? (and not zap them)

Or,
ahhh,, nevvamind

Oh wow (1)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | about 6 months ago | (#46525347)

"Would you like the $20 bug zapper that kills all bugs, or the $1000 bug zapper that for reasons unknown allows some bugs to live?"

"I think I'll take the $20 model, thanks.."

It must, absolutely must (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 6 months ago | (#46525391)

go Pweeeuuu, pweeeu! as it shoots them.

Re:It must, absolutely must (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 6 months ago | (#46529161)

Cool, need a volume knob though, for night time! Maybe they can vary the power to only blind the bug/damage the wings. Then it may be effective over a larger area too.

It's all fun and games (1)

slapout (93640) | about 6 months ago | (#46525415)

until someone has a ringtone that sounds too much like an insect....

Re:It's all fun and games (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 6 months ago | (#46527137)

i'm ok with device that destroys phones with obnoxious ringtones. I'd like to bring one on the train with me in the morning

I remember this from 2009 (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 6 months ago | (#46525463)

I remember this from a Slashdot article back in 2009.
New laser system targets mosquitos [slashdot.org]

this is just radar system for insects.. (1)

strstr (539330) | about 6 months ago | (#46525537)

So they invented a new military grade radar system for consumer usage in and around the home.

The military has had these systems (directed-energy radar systems) for use in human targeting for decades. A few capabilities include tracking heart rate, breathe, license plates, and brain waves (mind reading/altering). Fully patented since 1974 by Robert Malech. Details here: http://www.oregonstatehospital... [oregonstatehospital.net]

There are other uses of radar technologies coming into the consume land including personal cell "cellular" technology which tracks each cellphone individually and creates a pocket of reception (using energy beamed right to the devices, ala directed-energy) around the device itself rather than using omnidirectional antenna systems. The article about this was on Slashdot just last month.. http://mobile.slashdot.org/sto... [slashdot.org]

Here's the Raytheon patent for the Multifunctional radio frequency directed energy system , which uses radar to track objects and image them, and can beam energy at the object for slow-kill, annihilation, weather control, and more: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi... [uspto.gov]

It can use lasers, infrared, and any other method for targeting.

Re:this is just radar system for insects.. (1)

strstr (539330) | about 6 months ago | (#46525583)

BTW: the targeting mechanisms for radar can be expanded from any object. Lets say, from humans, to "ice" on the road, to "insects" in the air, to air planes, to missiles, to neurons, to cellphones, to specific people in a database, to cells or bacteria, to even specific types of atoms/material deposits..

To asteroids, to stars, to planets, to specific energy signatures of any kind - whether those energy signatures be "the color red" or the appearance of a girls face, or radio signals from DNA, or whatever.. Maybe a certain type of thought from a person by reading the pattern and frequencies of neurons.

All imaging is based on energy signatures no matter what spectrum the energy came from.

New sci-fi flick coming to you... (1)

American Patent Guy (653432) | about 6 months ago | (#46525659)

"That opens the prospect of a new generation of bug zappers that kill only certain insects or just females rather than males."

It'll take the sci-fi people about six months to take off with this. Here's the opening script:

(Boy wanting to get rid of his old girlfriend): "Hey babe! Why don't you get out of the car and come inside to my place? See, it's safe: I'm walking inside..."
(Girl with innocent look): "Sure..."

(Policeman standing in front of laser-burnt pile on floor with girly bits of cloth sticking out): "So, what exactly happened here?"
(Boy): "I swear it was an accident! I only installed it this morning! I didn't know..."

Then what? (1)

RandCraw (1047302) | about 6 months ago | (#46526183)

OK, you've identified a bug that happened to fly past your tiny laser beam. Ignoring the zillion other bugs in your yard that did NOT fly past your beam, now you need to track this bug to confirm its location before you:

1) Turn on/off a gigantic bug zapper that will zap ONLY the bug you've targeted. And you'll do this by instantly powering up a large UV lamp and power grid that draws your moth straight to your flame?

2) Shoot the bugger down? With what, a missile? A laser? How long is your gun targeting system going to continue to work (safely) when left outdoors in-or-near the weather for months or years?

3) How many of these contraptions will you need to control your bad bug population? A laser bug zapper is unlikely to de-bug more than 1/8 acre. Is a farmer really going to buy 320 of these to patrol his back 40?

Not buggy likely.

David Brin predicted this in _Earth_... (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 6 months ago | (#46526585)

...although I think he cast it as a Star Wars spinoff. I'm liking this idea, especially if it's subject to Moore's Law-style cost scaling over time.

Prior art (1)

hakioawa (127597) | about 6 months ago | (#46527065)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4tPrcePdGM

Not new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46527101)

Didn't IVL do this 4 years ago? They could distinguish female moqsuitos from males and zap them with a laser.
http://makezine.com/2010/08/30/make-23-how-to-shoot-mosquitoes-wit/

But, But... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 6 months ago | (#46529073)

The endangered malaria mosquito! Once this majestic creature roamed the plains in the hundreds of millions! Due to habitat loss and human intervention, it now roams the plains in somewhat fewer hundreds of millions! Oh, when it's cute and fluffy like a panda, the eco nuts get all up in arms, but just because it happens to be a blood sucking parasite that spreads a nasty disease, no one wants any part of it! Hypocrites!

awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46529493)

I, for one, welcome our new pesticide, bio-engineered toxin and laser resistant insect overlords

Are they trying to make (1)

soccrates (634152) | about 6 months ago | (#46533629)

mosquitoes with freakin lazer beams??
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