Wearable Computers Aid Researchers in Fight Against West Nile Virus
East Carolina University researchers hope wireless and wearable computers from Xybernaut Coproration of Fairfax, Virginia will streamline the identification and tracking of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus. This innovation is a combination of wireless Personal Digital Assistants and Xybernaut wearable computers, and is a result of a partnership between East Carolina University and the U.S. Army’s Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine.
The goal of the project is to evaluate how wireless technology could speed the identification of mosquito species in their habitats from the field. This technology is important in helping to track and hopefully combat the spread of West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses. A pilot study of the new identification system will begin in North Carolina this fall. This new technology enables workers to identify and report the location of mosquitoes that might be carriers of the virus.
If an exact identification is made, the worker selects the mosquito type, enters GPS coordinates and date into the program, which is then sent to the database where it’s saved. The information pinpoints the geographic locations of mosquitoes suspected as the common carriers of the West Nile virus. The technology used in this study can be easily adapted for use by any government agency.
The primary technology is Xybernaut Corporation’s MA IV & V, which is wearable computer device that uses a standard Microsoft Windows operating system and has the processing power of an actual desktop. These devices also include a head mounted display screen that displays images equivalent to a 17-inch computer monitor. Xybernaut wearable computers can also be outfitted with wireless communication systems as well as GPS coordinate systems.