Mosquitoes are a major problem. I'm not just talking about the annoying noise or the itching after they bite you. Mosquitoes spread malaria and other deadly diseases that cause more than 1 million deaths a year.
While Bill Gates is battling mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases in Africa (using Viagra in some cases), the company he founded is looking to get some benefit out of mosquitoes' feeding habits. Even better, the company is doing it with one of the hottest new tech gadgets. Welcome to Project Premonition.
The short version is that Microsoft is going mosquito-hunting using drones. While that sounds like the premise for a great new sport, it could actually be a way to predict outbreaks of known and unknown diseases.
Microsoft's drones are going to deploy mosquito traps outdoors and collect the traps autonomously when they're full. The mosquito traps have an undisclosed "bait" system and sensors that can weed out non-mosquito insects.
When a mosquito is trapped, it's hit with chemicals that preserve it until the drone comes to take it to a lab. From there, researchers can examine the captured mosquitoes' blood looking for viruses.
Plugging the viruses found in the mosquitoes, along with where they were captured, into cloud-based processing systems could let Microsoft predict outbreaks. And not just for the typical mosquito-borne illnesses.
Seeing what viruses are in the blood of animals the mosquito is feeding on can predict outbreaks of all kinds, even for viruses we haven't seen before. Isn't technology wonderful?
Thinking about getting in on the drone craze yourself? Find out how to buy the right drone for you.