This year, the mosquito plague will probably be even a bit more annoying, because at the end of May – during the peak phase of the mosquito control season – the municipal action group for combating mosquito infection (KABS), which is responsible for containing the pests in the Upper Rhine region, lost two helicopters within a short time. As a result, the application of the control agent was delayed. Although one helicopter is now ready for use again, we still expect a larger population than last year.
Of course, there are ways and means to protect yourself against mosquitoes, but as we know from painful experience, none of them help much. Sprays or creams sometimes have a strong smell, only have a moderate effect, and not everyone tolerates them. Of course, we could try instead to build a garden pond – assuming we don’t already have one – to breed dragonflies, since they feed on mosquitoes. However, this strikes us as rather expensive, not to mention the maintenance of such a pond.
The Swiss developers from the start-up company Nopix Global AG in Zurich were probably thinking the same thing, and instead of the umpteenth cream, they developed the nopixgo – a mosquito-repellent wristband that prevents nerve-racking insects from biting by means of electromagnetic waves and signals instead of chemical agents.
The technology behind it is called biopulse and was originally developed by the Swiss electronics and high-frequency scientist Kurt Stoll to protect children in Africa from mosquitoes that transmit malaria. Stoll approached the question of how to prevent mosquitoes from biting from the perspective of a physicist rather than a biologist. Together with experts from the University of Tübingen, he discovered that electromagnetic waves and signals affect mosquitoes.
Nopix Global has now integrated this technology into its insect protection wristband. The biopulse module in the nopixgo mosquito protection wristband sends weak electromagnetic signals that the sensilla (hair-like sensory organs) of mosquitoes detect as a storm zone. The mosquitoes’ natural instincts lead them to avoid the supposed storm. And since instincts cannot simply be switched off, mosquitoes can’t get used to the signals – unlike chemical agents.
The start-up company promises that this will drastically reduce the risk of mosquito bites. The wristband simulates storms within a radius of two meters of the human body, without the electromagnetic radiation having a harmful effect: according to Nopix Global, the signal strength of the biopulse module is less than one percent as strong as that of a standard smartphone and therefore not dangerous for people with pacemakers, pregnant women, or animals. The nopixgo is charged via Micro-USB and offers up to five days protection against mosquito bites.
For the future, the plan is to use the technology in other application fields as well, for example in window frames or on a desk. Biopulse technology can also be used in the fight against mosquitoes that transmit so-called vector diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus. In order to be able to do this even better and more specifically in the future, the required frequency patterns for the module can then be configured directly via Bluetooth depending on the region.
We at Rutronik24 had already used one of the nopixgo wristbands on our Asian holiday and we were highly satisfied: not a single mosquito bite in two weeks! Since then, we have been more relaxed about the barbecue in our garden – and now we don’t have to buy a dragonfly squadron of our own to hunt down the annoying pests!