FlightSensor—The Next Generation of Insect Monitoring

FlightSensor—The Next Generation of Insect Monitoring

Riverside

A start-up company launched by Bourns College of Engineering Computer Science Professor Eamonn Keogh and Agenor Mafra-Neto, founder of ISCA Technologies in Riverside,  and led by  UCR alum, Shailendra Singh, was among 30 startup companies selected for the Alliance for SoCal Innovation, SoCal First Look Showcase at UCLA this summer.

The start-up company, FarmSense, is also being supported by Masschallenge Accelerator, a community of innovators who work together to solve some of the world’s most massive challenges.

The support will help FarmSense accelerate its production of FlightSensor, an inexpensive, easy-to-use monitoring system for mosquitoes and other flying insects, for field trials and commercial sales. FarmSense is a resident of ExCITE, a startup accelerator partnership between UC Riverside, the City of Riverside, and Riverside County.

UCR defined FlightSensor as a real-time, cloud-based insect monitoring platform which detects, classifies, and quantifies insects. When this information is integrated with crop and environmental information, farmers know where both beneficial and pest insects are in space and time. As a result, they will be better able to manage pesticides more judiciously, save money and reduce crop loss.   In addition, those who advocate for a reduction in the use of pesticides are excited about the positive implications a reduction in the use of pesticides may have in regard to human health.  

The current techniques used to monitor insects are labor-intensive and offer varying levels of sensitivity and accuracy. The most common technique involves visual inspection of insects stuck to a strip of paper, which can take hours or days. The process also requires magnification and possibly the services of a professional entomologist.

Keogy told UCR Today in relation to existing technology, “The farmers have to sit there with a microscope and clicker. They’re busy, hardworking people, so they don’t bother. They just spray the pesticide,” he added, “With better information, they can spray less.”

FlightSensor consists of a battery-operated sensor and transmitter integrated with insect traps, already widely in use. The sensor detects the species based on wingbeat frequency and sends that information, along with the time and location, to an app on the farmer’s phone or computer.

Although early field trials identified some complications with the product—the sensors kept breaking. It turned out that the trapped insects attracted geckos, which got into the traps and broke the sensors. The developers found a simple solution to this concern—the FlightSensors are now attached to aluminum poles that the geckos cannot climb. 

To learn more about this breakthrough technology visit http://www.farmsense.io/index.html.

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