New App Identifies Mosquitoes by Buzzing Sound
VOA News｜Science & Health
November 16, 2020 03:34 PM (source)
New App Identifies Mosquitoes by Buzzing Sound
新款 APP 透過嗡嗡聲識別蚊子種類
November 16, 2020 03:34 PM
The high-pitched whine of a mosquito is annoying, but scientists have developed an app that uses that sound to detect dangerous mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes kill hundreds of thousands of people each year by spreading microbes that cause diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever. But researcher Haripriya Vaidehi Narayanan says anyone with a cellphone can help tackle these diseases by using the Abuzz app to identify mosquitoes.
"If they see a mosquito around us, they just open the phone, open up the app, point their phone towards the mosquito and hit the record button," said Narayanan, who started working on the project as a graduate student at Stanford University. She's now in the Department of Immunology at the University of California Los Angeles.
"So then, when the mosquito flaps its wings and starts flying around, it makes that noise, that annoying buzzing noise … that noise is what gets recorded by the Abuzz app," she added.
Many mosquito-borne diseases don't have cures or vaccines, so targeting mosquitoes is the best approach to controlling these diseases.
"If we're going to tackle diseases caused by mosquitoes like malaria or dengue, the most important step is to know where the mosquitoes are," Narayanan said.
Listening for answers
Traditional mosquito monitoring can be time-consuming and expensive because it requires labor-intensive trapping and trained scientists to identify the tiny insects.
There are around 3,500 different mosquito species, but only about 40 are dangerous to humans, according to Manu Prakash, professor of bioengineering at Stanford University and principal investigator of the project.
"In your backyard, do you have a nuisance mosquito or do you have a potentially dangerous mosquito?" Prakash said.
To answer that question, Prakash's team decided to listen. When mosquitoes beat their wings up and down, they produce that distinctive buzzing sound. Every mosquito species makes a slightly different buzz.
Users record as little as one or two seconds of a mosquito sound with the Abuzz app on their cellphone. The app compares this recording against a database and decides which species of mosquito it is most likely to be.
Because the tool — any cellphone or smartphone — is already in billions of people's pockets, the team says they'll be able to monitor mosquitoes on a much larger scale than previously possible.
"This is something that doesn't require fancy smartphones, just the very bare minimum, basic cellphones are actually good enough," Prakash said.
By crowd-sourcing mosquito information from across the world, the app will build maps of where dangerous mosquitoes are found. This will help scientists and health authorities predict where disease outbreaks might occur and where to target mosquito control.
Prakash believes this type of community engagement is key to tackling big problems like mosquito-borne disease.
"The more number of people engage the better the tool gets. So, we're very excited that if literally, you know, hundreds of thousands of people are recording mosquitoes every day especially, you know, around the world, it will create the kind of community that is needed," Prakash said.
The Abuzz app will be available to download for free in the next month or two.
Another group of researchers at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom is developing a similar cellphone app — called Mozzwear — that identifies malaria mosquitoes by their sound.
每年數十萬人死於瘧疾(malaria)、登革熱(dengue fever)和黃熱病(yellow fever)等疾病，引發的病源是由蚊子所傳播的微生物(microbe，註 2)，但是研究人員哈利匹亞 • 納拉亞南（Haripriya Vaidehi Narayana，音釋）說，任何擁有手機的人都可以使用 Abuzz ，辨識蚊子種類以對抗這些疾病。
「如果他們看到周圍有蚊子，只要打開手機，開啟應用程式，把手機對準蚊子，然後按下記錄按鈕即可。」納拉亞南就讀史丹福大學（Stanford University）研究所時，就參與了這項計畫，她現在於加利福尼亞大學洛杉磯分校（University of California, Los Angeles）的免疫學系工作。
她說道 :「因此，當蚊子拍打翅膀並開始飛行時，它發出的聲音，那個令人討厭的嗡嗡聲……就是 Abuzz 記錄下來的聲音。」
史丹福大學生物工程學(bioengineering)教授及該計畫主持人曼努 • 普拉卡什（Manu Prakash，音釋）表示，有大約 3,500 種不同的蚊子，但只有40種是對人體有害的。
使用者只需要使用手機上的 Abuzz 應用程式，錄製一到兩秒鐘的蚊子聲，應用程式就會將記錄與數據庫(database)進行比對，並判定最有可能的品種。
英國牛津大學（University of Oxford）研究人員正在開發另一組類似的應用程式「Mozzwear」，透過蚊子的嗡嗡聲辨識帶有瘧疾的蚊子。
註 1： whine 於本文指「刺耳的尖聲」；本字也常指「發出哀鳴」
註 2：microbe 源自古希臘文的「小」“micros” 和 「生命」“bios”；於本文指「微生物」；注意重音在第 2 音節
註 3：nuisance 源自英法文的「傷害」“nusaunce”； 於本文指「惹人討厭」的意思；注意重音在第 1 音節
註 4：key 於本文指「關鍵」的意思；本字也常指「鑰匙」、「電腦鍵盤」和 「音調」
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Check your comprehension!
Choose the BEST answer to each of the questions below. After you finish, highlight the parentheses to reveal the hidden answers.
1. ( A ) How does the new app track mosquitos?
(A) Through their buzz
(B) Through their flying pattern
(C) Through their color
(D) Through their airborne diseases
2. ( B ) Which of the following is something Narayanan said according to the article?
(A) Having a mosquito bite you is worse than listening to its buzz.
(B) Knowing the location of mosquitos is the best way to curb their diseases.
(C) Recording the itchiness of a mosquito bite is how her new app works.
(D) Identifying mosquitos requires labor intensive methods and lots of time.
3. ( C ) Why does Prakash think it's better if more people use Abuzz?
(A) Because the more people track mosquitos, the less they get bitten.
(B) So he could earn some commission from users downloading the app.
(C) Because the more people use it, the more accurate mosquito tracking is.
(D) So he can figure out how to improve the app for more accurate tracking.