Tim: So Chris, you are holding a device in your hands that you have invented, and it detects certain chemicals. Can you talk about what it detects?
Chris: Yes, this is a molecule detector for two organic compounds and they would be 2-octanol and 2-hexanol. Those are odors that come from certain places. And this product is designed to detect those two specific organic molecules.
Tim: Okay, now those are very specific molecules indeed. Why those two—and we will give this away—and what is it to detect?
Chris: Those two organic odors are the odors that bed bugs give off. They are distinct to bed bugs and not to any other insects. And by detecting those two odors, this product can help find or root out bed bugs that are burrowed into furniture, cracks, and crevices, bedding, warm socks on your nightstand. They are very difficult and time consuming to find. They are an insect like a lot of insects that have evolved over millions of years. So they are very good, very learned at hiding—that’s what they do best.
Tim: I am a little hesitant to ask but how badly do you need to detect these?
Chris: Well, a bed bug can be from anywhere from a fancy high end hotel to a very low end public housing. So they can be anywhere, they could be on a bus, airplane, movie theater, taxicab. But most of the time bed bugs are the result of just poor housekeeping in one place. And they are very portable insects so their eggs can stick to clothing, shoes, pocket books, wallets without you knowing that and then unknowingly be spread to very far flung places.
Tim: I understand that there are plenty of bed bugs to go around these days.
Chris: Yeah, and they make more every day. So yeah, there are plenty of bed bugs to go around.
Tim: Now since we are at the consumer electronics show, does this have a household and individual consumer target—who would buy a bed bug detector?
Chris: It varies, but originally mainly this product was for travelers for people that travel all over the world but also for hotels, for housekeeping in hotels, for institutions, hospitals places like that. And professionals for exterminators as well.
Tim: Let me ask because your logo over here has a hound dog in it, called the Electronic Dog Nose, how else are bed bugs are detected, are dogs actually a way to find them?
Chris: Yes, they are. A dog is a very good way of doing it. Dogs are trained to sniff out these two pheromones the 2-hexanol and octanol but a dog doesn’t know the name of that. They are basically trained for the odor, and they require to be refreshed every once in a while, they have to be retrained, so it is not something that a dog is trained once and then remembers. They have to be, once in a while, retrained for that. And the dogs, sometimes they have different personalities, some will jump on the furniture and run around the room quickly-others won’t.
Tim: They might have sympathy.
Chris: Yeah, they may have sympathy. And they will eat your M&Ms and crackers that fall down in the couch cushions that could have insecticides or diatomaceous earth. So it is not very good for the dog in a lot of cases because typically it is a dirty environment.
Tim: Now that you’ve geared everyone who watches this with the ubiquitous presence of these little things, what do you do? What can we do about bed bugs?
Chris: I am glad you asked that. We are different in our approach. The tried and true methods are professional exterminators that come in with insecticides, but due to days of DDT and some of these other agents that are very poisonous and long lasting that chemicals that are used aren’t very long lasting, so they have to be reapplied. And then there is diatomaceous earth which is a very fine powdery substance that basically gets on the bug and rubs on them and exposes their outer shell and they eventually die from that.
So for the most part, that’s the industry wide standard there; that is how they do it. But we have one unique way that is a little bit different than everybody else’s. So once we’ve detected bed bugs and we know where they are, in the cracks and crevices of furniture, what we do is we have a 540 nanometer blue laser. What we do is put a diffuser on the end of this laser so it is not going to harm anybody but it is strong enough to kill the bed bugs and the eggs.
So we put a diffuser on the end of this 2 watt laser. I am not going to turn it on now at the show because you do need to wear some goggles for that.It is just like a pen flashlight, you cycle the switch on the back, and you point the laser around the area where the cracks and crevices are, and you kill the eggs and the bed bugs.
Tim: What mechanism is this? Is it the heat? Is it the wavelength?
Chris: It is the heat, it is the heat energy, yes. So this is the 2 watt basically what they call burning type laser but it is stepped down, so it doesn’t actually burn anything. But it is heat energy, basically thermal energy that kills them. And then it is known that blue light like ultraviolet light up in the blue range are very effective for sterilization, cleaning, bugs and bacteria and virus. That’s basically what we do here. We do the same thing. So we don’t leave any chemicals for children or anyone to linger on or stain your furniture. And then you can go around the room quickly and right where the activity is, kill them and know that you got them the first time.
Tim: Now travelers here in Vegas for CES—how worried should they be? Have you ever run into any in any hotel rooms around the city?
Chris: Well, yeah, I can’t tell you where I’ve been, I’ve been on a lot of bed bug hunts.
Tim: You could give hints.
Chris: I could give hints. Well, from mild to wild from the high end to the low end basically from public housing to pent houses. They are everywhere. Bed bugs don’t care if you are in a pent house or if you are in public housing, or in a boxed space, they will just go after the nearest blood meal they can get and bite you and take their little blood meal and then they may come back for more later if you sleep or come back to the same place.