Published: 04th November 2017
A global mosquito map can detect your winged enemy using a phone and the mosquito's buzz
Each mosquito's hum or buzzing sound is characteristic to them owing to their wingbeats
Indian-origin researchers at Stanford University in the US are creating a global map of mosquito distribution using cellphone recordings of mosquito buzz shared by citizen scientists across the world. The map technically works using cellphone recordings that capture the buzz of the mosquito and can indicate exactly when and where the most dangerous species could be.
"We could enable the world's largest network of mosquito surveillance — just purely using tools that almost everyone around the world now carries in their pocket," said lead researcher Manu Prakash, senior author of a paper in the journal eLife that demonstrates the feasibility of this approach. Mosquito species can be differentiated by the frequency of their wingbeats, which is what produces their characteristic hum.
Blood alert: The map can, once implemented, reduce and detect dangerous mosquito species (representative image)
The Prakash Lab at Stanford wants citizen scientists to contribute to Abuzz, a mosquito monitoring platform it has developed to produce the mosquito distribution map. The method is to hold the cell phone's microphone near a mosquito, record its hum as it flies and upload the recording to the Abuzz website. The researchers take the raw signal, reduce background noise and run it through an algorithm that matches that particular buzz with the species that is most likely to have produced it.
Once the match is found, the researchers will send the person who submitted the recording and mark every recording on a map on the website, indicating exactly where and when that mosquito species was sighted.
"If you see a mosquito and you swat it, you've saved yourself an itch for one day. But if you see a mosquito and you record it and you send the data to the Abuzz project, then you've potentially contributed to an effort that can reduce the burden of mosquito-borne disease for many generations in the future, hopefully," said Haripriya Mukundarajan, an employee at the lab.
The Abuzz algorithm works using as little as one-fifth of a second of sound, although recordings that are a second or longer are the most desirable, they said.