New technology prevents mosquito bites - No more itching for me

07/02/2020 Know-How

The one thing worse than a buzzing mosquito is its bite – and those affected know that the itching is enough to drive one almost insane. Up to now, most remedies have focussed on alleviating the itchiness. However, a start-up company has now developed a wristband that prevents mosquitoes from biting in the first place.

"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room." With this quote, the Dalai Lama not only argues that everyone is capable of change, but also that he knows just how annoying mosquitoes can be.

The interplay between action and reaction is something we learn as children. A mosquito bite is an example of an action. The reaction is an uncomfortable itch and then scratching. This is where many remedies designed to alleviate the itchiness are applied. nopixgo does things differently. By using a wristband that prevents the action - in this case a mosquito bite - from occurring in the first place.

The core component of the nopixgo wristband is the module containing biopulse technology. It operates using low-power electromagnetic pulses and waves that influence the biting behaviour of mosquitoes. The insects perceive these impulses through their hair-like sensory organs. An instinct embedded in their DNA immediately triggers a protective reaction that inhibits the mosquitoes' biting behaviour or causes them to flee. In this way, the wristband drastically reduces the risk of a mosquito bite within a radius of two meters.

Effective without chemicals and hocus pocus

Compared with other mosquito repellents, the nopixgo wristband offers further advantages: Although mosquitoes are able to acclimatise to chemical substances, this is not the case with the electronic stimuli emitted by the wristband. That is because the stimuli trigger an instinctive protective behaviour in the mosquitoes. What's more, the effect is not based on chemical solutions that are used in creams and sprays and sometimes raise health concerns. Unpleasant films on the skin and odours are eliminated.

Hazards of electromagnetic radiation

Nevertheless, there are many reservations about the electromagnetic impulses of the type used in the wristband. Generally speaking, these reservations are not without merit. For instance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) as in illness in June 2018 and included it in the classifications of environmental illnesses. And certainly, since the auction for 5G frequencies, debates about the hazards of radiation have once again reached fever pitch.

While this has been happening, scientists have conducted further research into the sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation. For instance, biologist Prof. Dr. Alexander Lerchl and his team at Jacobs University in Bremen used mice to demonstrate that carcinogenic substances produce more tumours in animals with lifelong exposure to electromagnetic fields of the type generated by mobile telephones. The result is particularly astonishing because Prof. Dr. Lerchl previously believed that mobile phone radiation did not in principle pose any health risks.

How radio waves affect mosquitoes

Investigations conducted at the University of Zaragoza in Spain in May 2019 provided a completely new insight into electromagnetic sensitivity. There, researchers exposed female Aedes albopictus - a species of mosquito in which the females suck blood - to a sub-GHz ISM carrier frequency and a species-specific wideband modulation in the kHz range. The result? The radio waves suppressed the biting behaviour of the mosquitoes.

Kurt Stoll, a Swiss electronics and high-frequency scientist, discovered this behaviour long ago and has been continuously improving the modulation of the frequencies since then. In cooperation with insectologists at the University of Tübingen in Germany, he adapted this modulation to other mosquito species. He was never in any doubt that the Spanish researchers would confirm his own work. In the meantime, the frequency patterns are patented and available as biopulse technology in a radio module. The module's first application is in the nopixgo wristband. After field tests involving small numbers of devices, continuous optimisation of the firmware and with the support of Rutronik, which provided logistics solutions among other things, the device became available to end customers just in time for the mosquito season in 2019. You can purchase nopixgo from numerous sales partners worldwide.

Hazardous and non-hazardous radiation

Even though fears about electromagnetic radiation are not without foundation, they do not arise with regard to nopixgo. After all, 5G networks use frequencies that are around four times higher and a transmission power that is multiples higher than the anti-mosquito wristband. This applies even for domestic Wi-Fi routers. In most cases, Wi-Fi still uses the 2.4GHz band and generally makes full use of the legally permitted output of 100mW (20dBm) to achieve maximum range and a stable communication line.

By comparison, a microwave oven bombards noodle soup using the same frequency as the Wi-Fi router does the smartphone. However, the waves in the oven normally transmit 600 to 800 watts of power. If you place a glass of water beside your Wi-Fi router, you will notice that the router's maximum output of 0.1W is not enough to heat the water. When it comes to the 2W that a smartphone can emit in the direction of GSM base stations, opinions are divided. Measurements taken after extended telephone conversations combined with poor network coverage show regional and temporary warming of the skin tissue around the ears. That is why a Bluetooth headset (2.4 GHz, typ.10 mW, the legal maximum here is also 100 mW) is always the healthier alternative for those who make many phone calls.

The signal strength of the impulses from the nopixgo does not even amount to one percent of the strength of a smartphone. The wristband has a SAR value - the specific absorption rate, which is the usual measurement for the absorption of electromagnetic fields, for example, by the human body - of 0.1W/kg. According to the Federal Office For Radiation Protection, the different models of the Huawei P20 produce SAR values of 0.73 to 0.76W/kg (at the ear) and 1.21 to 1.26W/kg (on the body), and the iPhone Xs has a SAR value of 0.99W/kg at the ear and on the body. The World Health Organisation recommends a maximum limit of 2.0W/kg.

Using heat to combat itchiness

Another start-up is taking a very different approach. Under the name "Heat It", it has developed a heat source that aims to alleviate itchiness. This appealing idea that eliminates the fear of mosquito bites is currently attracting speculators to the crowdfunding campaign in the hope of a return on investment once the innovation becomes available in 2020. Whereas the Heat It gadget focuses on the reaction, the nopixgo wristband stops the bite from happening in the first place - and without a bite, there is no need for pain relief.

The mosquito - the world's most dangerous animal

It should also be pointed out that Heat It offers no protection against the transmission of disease by mosquitoes, which was the primary inspiration for the inventor of biopulse technology, Kurt Stoll. His goal was to alleviate the suffering of children in Africa who contract malaria, which, along with other vector diseases such as dengue fever or zika that are also transmitted by mosquitoes, makes the mosquito the most dangerous animal in the world. Due to global warming, people in the so-called industrialised or wealthy countries are also increasingly at risk of contracting these diseases.

Like many discoveries that are based on completely new scientific insights, nopixgo is also challenging the prejudices that exist against the other anti-mosquito gadgets on the market. However, these devices function in completely different ways. As an electronics distributor, Rutronik is well placed to evaluate the functionality of the underlying biopulse technology and is convinced by the function - and the success - of the nopixgo wristband. For this reason, Rutronik is supporting the flow of materials and capital at the Swiss start-up: firstly, by supplying electronic components for the circuit board assembly and secondly, by managing shipments of the wristband to retailers worldwide from Rutronik's Central European logistics centre. So far, there have been no returns, complaints and claims - which not only reflects Swiss production quality but also the satisfactory performance of the device.

The author of this article has been wearing a nopixgo wristband for around six months and has not suffered a single mosquito bite throughout this period; this has also eliminated the need for remedies to counter itchiness. It would be great to see the biopulse module from the wristbands also fitted to cool boxes, fishing rods, camping chairs and cars - just in case one forgets to wear the wristband.



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