Category Archives: zika virus

Innovation Sighting: "Sweaty" Billboards That Fight the Zika Virus

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus is a global emergency. To fight it, humans have to find a way to kill the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. 

Two marketing agencies in Brazil have designed a novel way to do just that. They call it The Mosquito Killer Billboard. It's a great example of the Task Unification Technique, one of five in the innovation method called Systematic Inventive Thinking. Here's how their innovation works:

The board releases a mixture of a lactic acid solution that mimics the smell of human sweat and carbon dioxide, which is in human breath. Its inventors have released the blueprint for free and are encouraging people around the world to make them. So far, they have installed two of the Mosquito Killer Billboards in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.

From the BBC:

"It's impressive how many mosquitoes you can trap and how many lives you can save with this idea," Otto Frossard from Posterscope told the BBC. Mr Frossard added that the board would cost "a few thousand Reals" (1,000 Brazilian Reals is $280/£194) to make. "I think anything that can be done to reduce the prevalence of the mosquito is a good thing," said Dr Chris Jackson, a pest control expert at the University of Southampton. The insects are drawn to the aroma from the board from a distance of up to 2.5km away, the board's inventors say.

"Particularly devices like this that attract and kill females that feed on blood, as it is only female mosquitoes that bite," he explained. Dr Jackson said that, while the science behind the billboard was effective, putting them in public places and attracting human attention - as well as insects - could be a problem.

To get the most out of the Task Unification technique, you follow five basic steps:

1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.

2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task, using one of three methods:

  • Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product accomplishes already
  • Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
  • Choose an internal component and make it perform the function of an external component, effectively “stealing” the external component’s function

3. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.

4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?

5. If you decide the new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it viable?