Tri States Public Radio Staff
All Tech Considered
Wed August 7, 2013
A Patch Designed To Make You Invisible To Mosquitoes
In our "Weekly Innovation" blog series, we explore an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Previously we've featured the sink-urinal and a better travel neck pillow. (Do you have an innovation to share? Use this quick form.)
A small, square patch that's not yet available in the U.S. is promising to work as a force field against pesky mosquitoes. It's called the Kite Patch, and it's a sticker that emits chemical compounds that essentially make you invisible to the bloodsuckers — they block a mosquito's ability to sense humans.
If this is as effective as promised, the Kite Patch could be a game changer in preventing mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and West Nile virus. It's been developed by a venture capital group called ieCrowd and scientists at Olfactor Laboratories, a research facility in California. Wired notes:
"According to its developers, users simply have to place the patch onto their clothes, and they become invisible to mosquitoes for up to 48 hours. This is big news for developing countries like Uganda, where residents have little beyond mosquito nets and toxic sprays to combat the illness-spreading insects."
The scientists behind the patch are raising money on Indiegogo to do rapid field testing in parts of the world that are more affected by mosquito-borne illnesses. The campaign has already blown way past its original goal, but for $10, you can provide a five-pack of Kite patches to a family in Uganda. For $85, you can send a 100-day supply and get some for yourself. The American backers will be the first to receive Kite patches after the company gains regulatory approval.
"It's a really unique way of doing product development," ieCrowd's Grey Frandsen told Wired. "This technology is too important to just funnel directly to the Walgreens. It needs to be part and parcel of people's daily lives all over the world."
Not everyone finds these disease-spreading irritants so annoying. As our sister blog The Two-Way reported last month, mosquitoes have a type: They prefer heavy breathers "with Type O blood, sporting a red shirt and more than a smattering of skin bacteria. Preferably either pregnant or holding a beer."