A Force Field Against Mosquitoes?

Bill Weir, Andrew Lampard, David Miller, David Kovenetsky
This Could Be Big
A Force Field Against Mosquitoes?

When warding off mosquitoes, few products on the market offer a convenient and non-toxic solution. Mosquito netting and EPA-registered repellants may be the most prevalent commercial products for the task, but a company called ieCrowd says it is about to introduce a new approach: the Kite Mosquito Patch.

Worldwide, 666,000 people die from malaria each year, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Africa, where 91 percent of worldwide Malaria cases were recorded in 2010, the need for an effective and convenient repellant is critical.

Developed at the University of California Riverside, the technology behind the Kite, which ieCrowd acquired, is said to involve non-toxic chemical compounds that neutralize a mosquito’s only meal ticket: its ability to detect carbon dioxide, which humans exhale.

“The Kite Patch is somewhat of a marvel - a novel approach to mosquito deterrents,” said Grey Frandsen, ieCrowd’s chief marketing officer and Kite’s project lead. “[It] creates a spatial plume, if you will, around the human body and essentially makes us invisible to mosquitoes.”

Each Kite Patch, which sticks onto garments, is purported to shield humans from mosquitoes for up to 48 hours. Frandsen would not reveal which chemical compounds are in the Kite Patch because the technology is patent pending. Nevertheless, he insisted that the compounds are safe.

“All of the compounds that we are bringing together and blending represent compounds approved by the Food and Drug Administration here in the United States for consumption, and by the International Fragrance Association for the fragrances,” he said.

Pending approval from the Environmental Protection Agency, ieCrowd expects to release the Kite Patch within 10 to 14 months. He declined to say how much it will cost.

Given Africa’s critical concentration of malaria cases and deaths, ieCrowd is testing the Kite patch in Uganda. Frandsen said he hopes to make an immediate impact where it matters most, even it means disrupting bed nets, a successful and non-toxic defense against malaria.

“Bed nets are great until you have to walk around all day wearing this strange bed net, which in most societies are not acceptable,” he said.