… The device originated from a challenge by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeking a way to reduce the one million deaths caused each year from malaria. As Myrhvold noted at the conference, a child dies of malaria every 43 seconds.Although early prototypes of the mosquito laser worked, they were too expensive for use in developing countries. In the latest version, the mosquito laser is assembled from commonly availably technology. In fact, Myhrvold and his team found all the components on Ebay, which included parts from printers and projectors, and the zoom lenses from digital cameras. He estimates that the new version could cost as little as $50 to manufacture, depending on volume.
During his demonstration, Myhrvold released hundreds of mosquitoes into a glass tank. A laser tracked their movements and shot them down one by one, leaving their carcasses on the bottom of the tank. Myhrvold said that the lasers could shoot between 50 and 100 mosquitoes per second.
Besides being fast, the laser is accurate, too; it can distinguish butterflies from mosquitoes, and can also tell the difference between male and female mosquitoes. Only female mosquitoes, whose wings beat at lower frequencies, bite humans.
“You could kill billions of mosquitoes a night and you could do so without harming butterflies,” Myhrvold said.
Ultimately, the goal is to use the lasers to create protective fences around homes and clinics, as well as in agricultural fields as a substitute for pesticides. …