The Kite Patch is the subject of a very successful Indiegogo fundraiser, and holds the promise of a lasting peace between mosquitoes and humans. It bears a compound designed by UC Riverside entomologist Anandasankar Ray that confuses mosquitoes' ability to track and follow concentration gradients of CO2, which is how they locate humans. However, the product couldn't be marketed in the USA without further testing, hence the crowdfunding campaign, which will send thousands of patches to Uganda, where they will be used as part of a wider trial in fighting malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. The actual nature of the compound is confusing: the Wired article describes it as both "toxic" and "nontoxic" and the crowdfunding FAQ calls it "nontoxic."
The idea is to refine the Kite as much as possible during the field testing and hone in on three main goals, the first being to analyze the adaptability of the patch. So, is it easy to apply and wear? Does it work well both at morning and at night? Does it fall off people’s clothing at after a certain point? The second is to test the effectiveness of the technology in harsh conditions found in places like Sub-Saharan Africa. Scientists have yet to determine exactly how far the sticker’s spatial radius extends and will be looking to see how it reacts to wind and extreme weather. Lastly, the field testing will evaluate how the sticker interacts with and can supplement current malaria prevention technology like bed nets.
“We’re looking at: What are any shortfalls specifically relating to the design that we can solve for that don’t come from testing it with 100 people in the Canadian Rockies or in Florida?” Frandsen says. “So there’s this real life, real world use and evaluation of that.” The Kite has reportedly performed well inside the highly-controlled confines of a lab, but Frandsen says the most vital evaluation will come from the Kite Patch’s time in Africa. “It’s a really unique way of doing product development,” he says of the extensive field testing. “It’s a lot easier to deal in private-equity markets or investments and just finish it.” But, he continues, “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.”
This Little Sticker Works Like an Anti-Mosquito Force Field [Liz Stinson/Wired]