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The Mosquito - ITV’s This Morning

Written by Admin on Wednesday 22 February 2006

What is the mosquito?
Launched on the commercial market a few weeks ago, the Mosquito is a small black box that emits an electronic noise so annoying to the ears of juveniles and young adults that they can't stand it for more than a few minutes. Giddiness and even nausea have been described when the noise is emitted.

The Mosquito Creator
Mosquito was created by Howard Stapleton. He is the son of a former chairman of the British arm of Ever Ready batteries and says the idea dates back to his childhood. 'The idea dates back from when I visited one of the firm's factories in the Midlands with my father when I was 12. I was shown into a room where people were using a technique called ultra-sonic welding, in which plastic was melted and fused using high frequency sound. I walked in with half a dozen adults and was hit by this excruciating noise. I had to leave almost immediately. When I told them I couldn't bear the sound, they asked: "What sound?" because they couldn't hear it. And that stuck with me.'

Howard later served an apprenticeship at British Aerospace before entering the security industry in which he has worked for the past 20 years.

Howard said the idea came to him again when he was shopping at his local store. ‘Of late it has had a lot of problems with youths hanging about and I just didn't fancy running the gauntlet.' After speaking to the shop's manager he offered to invent a solution that would stem this loss of trade.

Trial And Error
His aim was to create a machine that would emit a noise that was unpleasant to young people and so discourage them hanging around the shop. His first attempt was a combination of classical music -- a supposed deterrent to loitering gangs which was pioneered in American malls -- overlaid with his own idea of high frequency sound.

Howard experimented with his four children, Henry, six, Madeleine, ten, Alexandra, 11, and Isobel, 15, and her boyfriend Jonathan. ‘While classical music does have an effect, it takes a long time and doesn't always work. Alex even said she liked it. So Mozart was dropped in favour of pure noise.’

Mr Stapleton worked on the assumption that our hearing deteriorates with age. While a baby might detect a sound as high-pitched as 22KHZ, someone in their late 20s might be aware of it only when it drops to 15 or 16KHZ, he says.

Who can’t hear the sound?
The Mosquito is harmless and people above 25 simply cannot hear it. Or if they can, they are not troubled by it.

Mosquito Successes
The Mosquito is already in use outside a small number of shops and private homes, and is being tested by police forces, councils and railway station operators; the Mosquito is proving highly effective.

Author N/A
Publication ITV's This Morning
Date 22 February 2006

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