Potential and applications
Given the worldwide spread of mosquitoes, we expect a high demand. Based on our current knowledge and assuming a unit price of €50, we estimate the total potential to be several million to many tens of millions of units or more.
The principle of the devices can also be applied to other insect and pest species. In doing so, it has the potential to select and eliminate a specific species. In a conceivable outdoor application, such as a patio, the device would selectively choose mosquitoes but leave bees unmolested or only drive them away.
As an alternative to the often unsightly fly screens, an appropriately adjusted device could be attached to the window frame and drive away mosquitoes or other insects approaching from outside.
Using the same principle, our technology can keep birds away from buildings. For this, a so-called "repellent" would be used, i.e. a liquid material that is unpleasant for birds without harming them.
There are also a variety of other applications.
Pests cause massive damage in both health and economic areas. An essential and very important approach to their unavoidable control has been and continues to be the large-scale application of insecticides. However, the paradigm of "a lot helps a lot" has led to a decline in insect numbers of up to 80% in Western industrialized countries.
Although the specific extent of the problem is debated, there is little dispute that the problem exists and is of significant magnitude.
A decline in insect numbers is considered particularly problematic in ecology because insects serve as food for many other species, such as numerous amphibians, birds, and bats. A decline in insect populations thus also endangers the populations of many other species. In addition, pollination by insects is essential for many plants, including numerous crops. However, insects also include pests, and some species can be dangerous to humans as disease vectors (for example, the Asian tiger mosquito).
Human-induced pest control has played a very significant role in the decline of biodiversity and the number of insects. The wide-area and broad-spectrum use of insecticides mentioned above is one of the core problems here.
The quite significant negative impacts on humans and the environment are no longer acceptable. A change in the paradigm of pest control is absolutely necessary. One way of solving the problem is to control pests in a targeted manner, rather than on a large scale. The development of our technology can make a significant contribution to bringing this paradigm shift into daily implementation without jeopardizing productivity or reducing the quality of life.
The tiny drops technology can be used in many different ways in the future:
- Insect protection in hospitals, medical practices, conference centers or hotels etc.
- Insect protection in private rooms
- Insect protection and prevention in greenhouses
- Significant reduction of malaria cases in endangered areas through mosquito control
- Pest control during sowing, growing and harvesting of plants for medicinal purposes
- In later versions also applicable for control of other pests or rodents
- General pest control in agriculture, nationally and internationally
State of development
We are currently conducting basic research to realize this vision:
A small device about the size of a smoke detector hangs from the ceiling of a room. It acoustically detects the presence of mosquitoes, for example, based on the characteristic spectrum of their wing beat. Their position in the room is also recorded. The flight is tracked, and at the appropriate time the device releases a few very small drops of an insecticide from its nozzles, which lethally strike the mosquito.