Fencing Out Bugs


DTN Agdayta reports:  


Imagine guarding your crops with a virtual fence that senses the presence of a target insect and zaps it with a laser. Too sci-fi to believe? Global Good, a collaboration between Bill Gates and a global research consortium called Intellectual Ventures, is trying to make such a system a reality. The group is developing a “Photonic Fence” system, where software detect insects as they cross a plane and measures its size and wing beat frequency. These measurements allow the software to quickly identify not only different insects, but also gender, according to the Intellectual Ventures website. Once an insect is identified as a pest, the software “runs a safety check to ensure no innocent bystanders are in view, and then activates a laser to zap” the target.


The Photonic Fence is aimed at controlling threats such as mosquitoes and agricultural pests, and is undergoing field testing later this year, PR representative Missy White told DTN in an email. However, Global Good hopes the fence could be more than just a sophisticated bug sniper, she added. “The system is not only an environmentally-responsible alternative to chemical pesticides, it's a valuable source of big data on bugs,” White wrote. “Photonic fence can also be used to monitor insect populations to evaluate the effectiveness of repellants or as a research tool to understand insect behavior.”


For more information, see the Photonic Fence website here: http://bit.ly/…, and the Nature study behind the system's laser technology here: http://go.nature.com/….



Photo by Intellectual Ventures Laboratory



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