High-tech rat patrol hunts down rodents in hours, instead of days

An Internet of Things technology by IoTBox is being used to keep unwanted visitors out of food-storage areas

Illustrative image of rats (Pixabay)
Illustrative image of rats (Pixabay)

When it comes to rodents, all it takes is a single one to send people into a panic — or to effectively close down a restaurant or food warehouse.

“There’s no way to know where they are going to strike,” according to Shmulik Seifer, CEO and cofounder of Israeli start-up IoTBox. “Our Internet of Things sensor solution can help those with a pest problem track down the source of their infestation quickly, pointing out where the pests are nesting so they can be eliminated.”

In fact, said Seifer, IoTBox can figure out where a rat or mouse is hanging out within hours of an infestation: “Most pest control companies use manual methods to track down vermin, placing bait laced with poison around a warehouse or kitchen in the hope that the creature will bring some of it back to the nest, where the family will eat it and die. But that’s very hit and miss, and it can take a long time — days, or even weeks — to eliminate vermin using this method. Using our sensor tracking system, those responsible for pest control can track down vermin often on the day of an infestation.”

Using predictive analytics, IoTBox’s solutions include traps or add-ons for existing traps, which include sensors that detect rodent activity. The collected data is then uploaded to a central server, where it is recorded and analyzed. When a rat is on the move, the system quickly figures out the animal’s “travel patterns” — and figures out where it is likely to go next, and where it is probably nesting. All that remains is for pest control personnel to bring out their big guns, encircling the infested area and eliminating the rodents.

According to the company, “It is known that pests tend to target certain areas. Using IoTBox systems, these ‘hot spots’ can be easily identified and treated. Finding the source ‘hole in the wall’ becomes easily feasible, and pests can be targeted with precise, location-suitable treatment rather than a general application throughout the facility. This environmentally friendly approach limits the use of chemical treatment to occasions when it is the last resort, and only when food and people are safe from harm.”

Seifer presented IoTBox’s solution at a special event at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, pitching to top executives from major companies such as AVG, Ford, Yahoo, GE, Tyco, GM, ProSieben and

Sponsored by Axis Innovation — a Tel Aviv firm that helps start-ups connect with investors and bring their ideas and products to market — the Axis Tel Aviv Corporate Edition, which took place December 16, 2015, at the TASE’s headquarters in downtown Tel Aviv, was an event “aimed at connecting international companies actively looking to invest in Israel with the country’s top start-ups,” said Axis CEO Ed Frank. “Our event acts as a platform for business to be facilitated and the exchange of ideas between some of the brightest minds in the corporate and start-up space Israel has to offer.”

An IoTBox sensor (in green) atop a manual rat trap (Couertesy)
An IoTBox sensor (in green) atop a manual rat trap (Courtesy)

IoTBox was one of a dozen companies to pitch its technology at the event. To boot, among the start-ups presenting at the event, IoTBox was one of the more successful. Among the company’s customers are some of Israel’s largest food processors and manufacturers, including Unilever, Tnuva, and Osem. Among its customers abroad is the UK’s Asda, one of the country’s largest food retailers. “We also have as customers some electronics firms,” said Seifer. “Rats like to chew through wires, it turns out.”

The company, established in 2008 with partner Ronen Amichai, is “self sustaining with paying customers,” said Seifer.

Although the IoTBox solution seeks to destroy vermin, the system could easily be used to detect other creatures — termites, ants, human infiltrators, or any other moving object that needs to be tracked down.

What counts is the technology, according to Linat Wagner, head of innovation and start-up relations at Yahoo, and one of the investors the start-ups hoped to impress.

“The importance for us specifically at Yahoo in Axis Corporate Edition is the exposure we got to start-ups and the corporate network we create during the events,” said Wagner. “Yahoo has great interest in Israeli innovation, technologies and talent. We recently opened our first accelerator globally in Tel Aviv, called SigmaLabs, thus taking Yahoo’s investment and support for the Israeli innovation ecosystem to the next level.”

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