Define the Problem you are seeking to solve
PathGuard addresses the nuisance factor and potential health risks of disease transmission posed by the mosquito population of the University of Newcastle and surrounds. This is not a geographically isolated issue; mosquitoes are classified as a health hazard by NSW Health and the World Health Organisation believes mosquitoes are a primary transmission vector of malaria.
Describe your big idea (what is the vision?).
PathGuard controls the density of mosquitoes over large areas by repelling mosquitoes from high traffic pathways using a vaporised repellent and attract them to areas with low traffic using heat. Path Guard’s simple design allows for modular deployment of a network of lanterns, to cover any size area, ranging from a simple backyard deterrence system to a complex scheme for widespread control.
Describe and illustrate (if possible) your proposed solution.
The PathGuard solution proposes a combination of vaporised repellent and a heat source to guide mosquitoes away from human populations. The vapor intended for use as repellent is a transfluthrin solution, a fast-acting insecticide suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The active ingredient is readily available, cost effective and odourless, that WHO has appraised as “unlikely to present an acute hazard in normal use”. PathGuard lanterns use data inputted by end users to allow for remote configuration of peak operating times and monitoring of repellent levels across the network.
What is the core foundation of your research or solution (this could be technology, research, know-how, etc.)?
The primary concern of the team was the efficacy and safety of the proposed transfluthrin solution used as a repellent, so significant research was undertaken to support our decision. We wanted to focus on developing a scalable system which incorporated emerging technology, hence the practicality of 3D printing for prototyping and small-scale manufacturing stuck with us. Finally, we leveraged the knowledge of our team to understand how to work towards programming off-the-shelf hardware platforms, like the Arduino prototyping platform, to be used in a networked configuration.
Describe who you think your end-user and/or paying customer could be.
PathGuard is designed with modularity as a core feature, bringing the device in reach of a wider socioeconomic range. With minor design tweaks, the lantern can be equipped with a lithium-ion battery for residential use or connected directly to existing mains power and deployed commercially.
On a large scale, such as with the University of Newcastle, PathGuard benefits both the university, as a safer on-campus experience promotes student attendance and engagement with University services and events. The students themselves will also feel more comfortable and less conflicted about spending time on campus.
Describe your Technology Readiness Level or Research Literature Level.
All components and devices used to produce the PathGuard lantern are all readily available off-the-shelf at many electronic retailers, or through the universities MakerSpace. The models and associated files for the lantern have already been drafted and is ready for prototyping via 3D printing. Additionally, circuit diagrams and pseudocode have already been produced and are ready for testing.
Describe the top three critical hypotheses you want to explore:
To test PathGuard we propose three hypotheses:
PathGuard will be capable of small-scale repellence in an outdoor environment.
The network of lanterns is effective in attracting and displacing large populations of mosquitoes and relocating them to more desirable areas.
That a PathGuard lantern is capable of a minimum of two weeks operating time in a high traffic area before requiring maintenance.
A physical prototype will be created using 3D printing. The assembled PathGuard lantern will be placed in a high-traffic area on the University campus. To test the first hypothesis, the lantern will be configured to match expected repellent behaviour in real-world use, and victims of bites will be recorded over a regular interval. These results will be compared to control data, with the aim to reduce bite frequency.
To test the second hypothesis, several PathGuard lanterns will be placed between the original test site and an uninhabited area. The lanterns will alternate appropriately from attracting to repelling and vice versa between both sites. The uninhabited site will be observed for any change in mosquito frequency and population, with the aim of identifying movement of mosquitos from the test site and the uninhabited area.
The final hypothesis will be tested through long-term deployment of PathGuard devices, following the second test. Repellent levels will be monitored over a two-week period, via the PathGuard software and through physical inspection. The aim is to identify the optimal amount of repellent necessary to maintain protection of high-traffic areas.
Describe how would use the funding to progress your hypotheses, including:
The decision to use 3D printing in the early stages of developing the physical Pathguard lantern mean design and revisions can be done rapidly and cost-effectively (using PLA). The electrical components used have been selected for their widespread availability. Overall a breakdown in cost for the lanterns is as follows:
>PLA Filament --------------------- $12.43 – $13.63/lantern
>Arduino nano board ------------ $7.65 - $8.60/lantern
>Photosensitivity Module ------- $1.62 - $2.03/lantern
>Misc. wiring/etc ------------------ $10.34 - $12.20/lantern
>Transfluthrin solution ----------- $1650 - $1900 overall
In terms of project duration, the first 3D models are almost finalized, 3D printing the first PathGuard prototypes will be prompt, taking no more than two weeks. Time will also be needed to secure the Transfluthrin-solvent from a commercial lab as self-production isn’t viable due to legal regulations. The testing period to assess PathGuard hypothesis will take place over the next two-month period, giving abundant time for idea revisions. Essential outcomes of this testing and development include:
• A single Pathguard lantern proves to be effective at reducing the mosquito population in an area.
• The proposed heat source combination proves effective in manipulating mosquitos.
• A network of Pathguard lanterns are more effective than a single lantern over a larger area.
What you’ve done to date, including challenges and wins.
To date, Path Guardians have successfully entered and won the Idea Spark for the Grand Challenge through its child idea – Project Fluorescence. The primary challenge for PathGuard was finding methods to attract mosquitos and chemicals to repel them. These challenges were overcome through using expert opinions presented by Dr Webber.
Why your idea is an unconventional or creative approach to the problem.
What makes PathGuard creative in its solution, is the fact all devices combine the ability to control mosquitos over long distances and produce a reliable light source at the same time - both of benefit to the university. The flexibility of PathGuard lanterns also provide end users with the ability to aesthetically customize their lantern while maintaining smart features – distancing PathGuard from a conventional lantern.