With computer vision, Bzigo creates ‘Iron Dome’ against mosquitos

Israeli startup’s tech doesn’t kill the pests, just pinpoints them with laser light and alerts your smartphone

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The Bzigo mosquito detector in action (Courtesy)
The Bzigo mosquito detector in action (Courtesy)

Mosquitos are not just annoying insects that whine in your ear while you try to sleep, feed on your blood and leave you with an itchy bite. They are also carriers of a variety of diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and the Zika virus, and thus can be deadly as well.

According to the World Health Organization, mosquito bites result in the deaths of more than one million people a year, the majority of them stemming from malaria.

Israeli startup Bzigo, founded by entrepreneur and investor Saar Wilf, says it has developed an autonomous mosquito detection solution to help provide a “pest free life.”

Using computer vision algorithms, the firm has developed a device that can be placed in every room in the house, to scan the environment, analyze the movement of tiny objects, and send a cellphone alert indicating the presence of a mosquito. The device shines a laser light around the location of the mosquito when it lands on a surface.

Once you know the location of the mosquito, explained Nadav Benedek, the firm’s CEO, in a phone interview, it “makes them easier to kill.”

Benedek explained that when he was a child, his father would scan his bedroom every night for mosquitos before he went to bed, to make sure Benedek would get a good night’s sleep.

“At that time, we had no computer vision and processors,” Benedek said. The Bzigo device “replaces what my father did every night.”

The device, in prototype stage, cannot kill the mosquito but just helps pinpoints its location, said Benedek.

Just like a smoke detector alerts of fire but doesn’t put out the fire and a car-sensor can alert drivers to the possibility of an impending crash, but cannot actually prevent the accident, so the Bzigo device alerts for mosquitos but cannot actually kill them, he said. Not just yet, anyway. “The next generation of our product will have the ability to kill the mosquitos as well. We are already working on the technology.”

The best way to kill mosquitos once you know their location, he said, is by using an extendable zapper easily found on Amazon for a couple of dollars. The Bzigo device would cost around $200, he said, and a home with multiple rooms would need multiple devices.

Benedek said the firm started research on the technology in 2016 and has raised to date a few million dollars in a series A funding round, and plans to raise an additional few million toward commercial production of the device, which will start hopefully soon.

“There is a huge interest in the device,” Benedek said, and the firm hopes to develop many more solutions for pests, including for outdoors.

“We want to be the Iron Dome for mosquitos,” he said, referring to the anti-missile technology developed in Israel.

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