This $199 laser pointer points out mosquitos without harming them

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Mosquito kill more people than any other creature in the world, and there is no shortage of potential technological solutions. one such solution comes bazigo, which markets mosquito detection devices in your home, points them with a laser and can notify you on your phone when a mozzie is buzzing.

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Walking down the halls at CES, I often find strange company where I have to push my cynicism deep down. It turns out that literally “walking” those halls — Nerdshala announced we’re not attending in person — “wait, what?” Your friend doesn’t shield the reporter from the odd moment of? In the context of a trade show. In this case, the magic of pointing a mosquito with a laser pointer is a super neat technical challenge, and I can totally see how it could be a first step toward devising an autonomous mosquito eradicator.

The device itself contains a light source (infrared LED), a high-res wide camera, and enough electronic brains in a small package to do the rest. According to the company, the AI ​​built into the device can tell the difference between man’s worst friend and a speck of dust, by analyzing the movement patterns of an insect.

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I can slide all this excitement into the (virtual) bustle of the CES show floor, but there are two issues.

The first issue is that the device doesn’t actually do anything to eliminate insects, it just sends a notification to your phone that it’s going to dust off your Nerf gun (or whatever your preferred mosquito-delivery method may be). It’s licking time, and points on good flight for nothing with a tiny red laser pointer. The company assured me that this is a Class 1 “absolutely safe” laser. I can see why the company decided to do this – I can’t imagine the legal and health risks associated with a laser that is powerful enough to make the skaters really chant where they came from. But it also presents a fundamental question about this product.

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“The real challenge is mosquito detection; Killing the mosquito is the easy part,” says Bizigo product manager Benjamin Resnick, as he explains the company demo video, “Once Bzigo uses its laser pointer to show you where it lands, you can easily kill the mosquito yourself.”

I have to admit, having grown up in a country where mosquitoes are the size of tiny propeller planes, I can’t say I’ve ever had that particular challenge.

The second — and much more troubling — issue with the product is that the company plans to ship what it has so far as a consumer-facing product. Bzigo claims that thousands of customers have reserved orders for the $199 device, with a product launch and delivery to pre-order customers coming “later this year”.

My heartfelt congratulations to any marketing team at any company that may sell thousands of $199 mosquito-marked laser pointers, but in the grand scheme of things, this is essentially a useless product. Mosquitoes are crepuscular (i.e. they feed at dawn and dusk) – when people are less likely to wake up for mosquito prey. And there’s already a wonderfully efficient solution: Long-lasting, insecticidal bed nets (LLINs) are a simple, cost-effective solution to protect families from malaria while they sleep. They cost $10, fully delivered, and create a physical barrier against malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and insecticides woven into the net kill the mosquitoes before they can transmit the disease from person to person.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as stupid as the next guy, and I love a good science experiment or creative prototype. My question: Will the economic and environmental impact of shipping thousands of fancy laser pointers around the world – which will find their way to landfills forever in the next 10 years, without killing a single mosquito or saving a single life – really Is there more profit?

I’m looking forward to a version of this product that has some sort of mosquito-killing technology. Until that happens, I expect the founders to rethink their plans for shipping this prototype as a consumer product. There are a lot of real problems out there that are worth solving; Putting on a late night silent rave laser light show for a couple of mosquitoes is not.

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