The naked truth about using smartphones to detect species of mosquitoes

Another Friday, another naked truth.

Chris Smith, also known as the Naked Scientist chats about a recent discovery made by a researcher at Stanford University and chats to Eusebius McKaiser about the beneficial relationship between mobile phones and mosquitoes.

Smith says that mobile phones are being used to analyse the sounds made by mosquitoes. He adds that there are roughly 3 500 different species of mosquitoes around the world but only a handful of them are capable of transmitting diseases like Malaria.

There are hundreds and millions of cases of these diseases that have lethal consequences, says Smith.

Scientists are still trying to work out where the mosquitoes are, in what sorts of densities, and how they move around - the painstaking way.

Chris Smith, the naked scientist

Smith adds that scientists need to execute the laborious task of deploying an entomologist, (someone who understands how insects work) into the field to collect samples of mosquitoes and calculate them. He adds that there are limited resources and not enough time to execute this arduous task.

He says that a researcher at Stanford University published a paper which highlighted the use of the mobile microphones in mobile phones to detect the various species of mosquitoes.

Microphones in mobile phones are so advanced, that they are tuned to pick up voices in all kinds of conditions, he explains, adding that the sounds of a mosquito’s wings map exactly the same frequency range as the human voice.

Smith goes into detail by saying that people should be able to use a mobile phone to record the sounds mosquitoes make, and work out the various types of species.

Different mosquito species have a different wing beat frequencies, says Smith. He adds that each species has a signature sound.

They have done this very detailed study, and they’ve created an app so that people all over the word can record their local mosquitoes and send in the sounds of their mosquitoes.

Chris Smith, the naked scientist

Smith says that a paper has been published showing the possibility of using your mobile device to record the mosquitos in your area, and analyses their sounds through the website.

This turns the entire world into a citizen scientist capable of informing where these animals are says Smith. He adds that this can pinpoint where the diseases are, and how they spread.

Click on the audio below to hear more...


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