The paper repeatedly claims near infrared laser light to be "retina safe" (quotes theirs) which is an oversimplification. Infrared light of wavelength around 1 µm in sufficient powers is very dangerous for the retina, especially compared to visible light where the blink reflex can save damage by lasers up to a point. Telecom wavelengths around 1.5 µm happen to be safer because such light gets absorbed in the cornea before being focused onto the retina, but at sufficient powers or longer wavelengths (e.g. 3 µm) where the absorption depth in the cornea gets very short there can instead be damage to that part of the eye. It's always the combination of the wavelength, which determines the absorptivity in the different parts of the eye, and incident energy (pulse duration × power), that determines the safety; there are no innately safe wavelengths close to that part of the spectrum.
I found a paper that shows human eye damage occuring 50% of time at 200 J/cm2, at least at blue wavelength
10 J/cm2 may be an adequate safety margin especially in near IR ranges where absorbtion occurs less in vulnerable inner eye structures.
There will definitely need to be some fail-safes to prevent beam from irridating one spot for more than necessary. Either beam movement or pulse length limits, or both.
Unrelated, I'm not sure why they need cameras. You already have a moving laser, couldn't you just scan the volume with it looking for insect wing beat reflections?
> Unrelated, I'm not sure why they need cameras.
Machine vision stuff expects a pixel map as input. You'd have to implement some quick raster scanning step to build that, but I guess in principle it would be possible.
Using the lasers you could measure insect wing beat frequency to avoid killing non target insects. I believe I read that in an older paper about insect laser fences, maybe these authors ignored it because it's patented
For every part of the spectrum there are safe limits.
I wonder if it is just heat/denaturing of mosquito polypeptides, or if electrical signals in their brian fry from too much instantaneous power.
Maybe my opinion that the title is using "Newspeak" was not that wrong after all.
> Optical tracking and laser-induced mortality of insects during flight
> Or, zapping mozzies WITH LASERZ!
Excellent reputation they have: "The company has been described as the country's largest and most notorious patent trolling company, the ultimate patent troll, and the most hated company in tech."
But I still can't buy one. What the hell, capitalism?
Picking off a mosquito will require positional accuracy of say 1mm. If you want a range of 10 meters you're going to need positional accuracy of ~.1 milliradian. Most galvos have a rotational range of .3-.5 radians, so you're not going to need extreme positional accuracy relative to what's on the market. A controller, pair of quality 16 bit dacs, galvo hardware and decent power supply should be adequate. I have some of the cheap $300 ebay 2-axis galvos and those are not sufficient. You're going to need a step up and are easily getting into the thousand dollar range for the galvos alone.
The system in the article uses reflections from a continuous illumination by the laser to identify the insect. Basically just translates to an audio signature that can be used to to see if it’s a mosquito and even if it’s a male or female.
It should be a lot more tricky with a very short illumination by scanning laser.
The return signal from progessively-focusing beam can provide the closed-loop control needed.
But ultimately the control system has nothing more than input voltage to the galvanometers to steer them, and depending on the source of inaccuracy they may or may not be able to overcome it.
Fast, close-to-linear response over a short range can be cheap; the overall linearity you get from your $1000 gadgets is unnecessary. Fixed calibration targets could help compensate for broad nonlinearity and also drift from, e.g., temperature variation. Varying focus as you home on the target with a spiral path forgives a lot of initial inaccuracy. The system could refine its response curves with each kill, to home in faster; calibration targets might not be needed if unfocused illumination is forgiving enough.
It doesn't need a 100% kill rate in the first 10 minutes. Indeed, in a usefully big volume it gets plenty of attempts on each target. So, there is plenty of time for the system to tune itself to its own hardware.
To me the largest engineering challenge is actually the identification step, where you'd need to get sufficient return to positively identify the critter. Would be interesting to see how they pull this all together.
The reason I ask is because after seeing the OP video (which is remarkable) I am left thinking that in terms of getting a cheap MVP to the market maybe a ballistic system of some sort would be preferable.
Take the same approach of using a high speed camera but using a pneumatic launcher shoot a handful of grains of sand at high speed. There are obvious downsides to this approach but the risk to human health is lower. Thoughts?
I would expect a sandblast to be worse to get in your eye than a flash of light. So, you would still need good large-body sensors. You would need to lead the target, another complication, and it would be hard to know how close you had got. The ones that miss would keep going and come down somewhere, although not fast. The range would be very limited because of how fast the grains would slow down -- drag goes by the area, but kinetic energy by the mass, hence volume, so smaller projectiles lose it very fast.
Sand grains suffer from a large surface area relative to their mass, so their speed would drop off very quickly. I have one of those bug-a-salt guns and they kinda suck at anything more than 10 feet (also bugs seem to be pretty resilient to that kind of damage). Obviously you could make one that is more precise but I feel like there would be a lot of new variables to deal with.
Some kind of beam steering ultrasonic setup might work as well (although probably expensive) If you can get 10-15 transducers to pop off a precisely timed 5W burst of say 60kHz sound such that they constructively interfere at the critter, you might be able to get them to disassemble in air without any moving parts on your rig.
Maybe you only deafen them, so they die of old age without mating.
I once priced out an array of half-inch-sized ultrasonic transducers. Seems like they were astonishingly cheap... like under $.50 each? Plus $.50 microcontrollers and a drive transistor for the spike. Maybe an FPGA running parallel convolutions?
So you think a massive invasive change in the core biology of a very large animal population is clearly superior to a local solution?
Ok, then please explain why.
Personally I would much rather leave the wildlife genetics as it is and rather protect homes directly. (btw. mosquitos are annoying even if they do not carry malaria)
And since the area covered of the laser is 30 m, killing up to 100 mosquitos per second, why on earth would you need a dozen to protect one home?
I believe this system can very accurately ID and neutralize an exact specie of a mosquito.
> The laser detection is so precise that it can specify the species, and even the gender, of the mosquito being targeted. “The women are bigger. They beat at a lower frequencies,” Mr. Myhrvold said. Since it is only the female mosquitoes who bite humans, for the sake of efficiency, his system would leave the males alone.
This has the potential to be a big win for not only comfort, but health and safety as well. Less bugs in kitchens = less chance for food getting infected or worse yet, having eggs laid in it.
I wonder what the mechanism is. Do the beads need to be transparent?
Because it's a neat sci-fi idea and you're talking to a colleague...
Here's a video of tracking using, if I recall, a fairly cheap camera - https://youtu.be/kuaMcVf501Y?t=4
And here's one of the associated papers - http://cdcl.umd.edu/papers/rsi2012.pdf
This paper in particular is interesting because, at the time I was working with an optics expert, and one of the major limitations at the consumer level was what this new paper aims to addresses (power output and safety). One observation we made was that, for consumers there are not too many laser 'things' in the home that are not fully enclosed. Basically, the FDA takes laser safety extremely seriously. People often think only about looking directly into a laser, but backscatter can also be dangerous.
History says no, but maybe there is a different system.
The main in-action of patent I have seen is patents being hoarded in big corporations. If the engineers work nights and weekends at those it is their own fault.
That’s not exactly accurate. IV creates spin-out companies that commercialize particular inventions created by IV inventors. Photonic Sentry is the commercialization vehicle for this mosquito zapper that was invented by IV inventors. Other examples are Kymeta, Terrapower and Echodyne.
IV does not typically commercialize inventions (patents) that it purchases — but the patent purchasing piece of the business is distinct from the invent and commercialize piece.
I'm O-positive and am always the center of their attention. It's amazing, sometimes people don't even believe me when I tell them how often I'm being bit (because they're getting nothing).
Wrt. the original post - if we put "mortality inducing" laser on a drone so it would collect the "fried" insects sparrow style then we'd have a nice protein rich dinner after half-an-hour of the drone flying around. Turning the tables so to speak.
In particular, a mosquito whose wings are shredded does not need to be (also) killed to be eliminated as a threat to public health.
It would have to be in fairly deep ultraviolet or insects could not fly in daytime.
Mosquitoes apparently have accounted for half of all human deaths ever.
What's different now?
Looks like this particular paper is focused on the laser part. I wonder how well the tracking part of it can work—if the bee zapper is practical.
> For both the coarse and fine tracking systems, subjects are identified by the size of their silhouettes generated from near infrared LED back-illumination or reflection.
Very impressive system but it currently requires a uniform backlight.
And to be honest the Modernist Cuisine isn't as good as the hype I've since decided after actually reading it.
Anywho if this ever leaves a lab I might re-evaluate my opinion on him.
So species 1 (in this case, mosquitos) is annoying species 2 (in this case homosapiens). I'm rather disappointed to know that species 2 has taken it upon themselves to maim species 1 by burning them. I may need to do something about this.
Not looking forward to the same kind of rig being attached to high-power lasers, and pointed at civilians.