Washington: Scientists have come up with a new wireless device which they claim can detect the presence of termites by "hearing" them chew through timber.
A team at Edith Cowan University says that the sensitive device, called wireless smart probe (WiSPr) network for acoustic detection, is also capable of locating termite activity in timber bridges and wooden power poles.
And, once detected, the device can immediately send an SMS or email to a pest control firm -- with the termites` GPS location -- so they can take appropriate action to protect the property.
The developers are looking to commercialise the device in the next 12 months in Australia and say that it has potential to revolutionise the pest control industry.
Prof Adam Osseiran said the technology consists of a tiny sensor -- much smaller than a fingernail -- which is attached to a piece of wood and placed around the house or retro-fitted to existing termite stations.
"It`s a wireless acoustic sensor that listens and recognises the acoustic `signature` of termites chewing on your house. You would need about 20 devices placed every few metres around a house and they would be continuously listening and monitoring and providing an effective shield against termite attacks," he said.
When placed in the ground, WiSPr can instantly detect termites or, if none are present, can serve as an early warning device if termites ever attack the property.
"If termites attack a pole, it could immediately send a signal to maintenance staff. Or by driving past bridges, council staff could `interrogate` the device and find out about the health of the bridges, or poles, while they are driving. That could be done by a smartphone application, which is something we are working on," he said.