The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
HOME   |   ABOUT   |   FORUM   |   CONTACT   |   FACEBOOK   |   RSS
Mosquito Anti-Teenager Device
Status: Real
The Sunday Mirror ran an article about a device, called the Mosquito, that promises to allow shopkeepers to get rid of the crowds of surly youths who like to congregate outside their shops. The article states:

The machine, which is hidden within the lights of corner shops, uses ear-splitting ultrasonic soundwaves. It is being hailed as the answer to clear away underage drinkers and vandals from the doorways of late-opening stores. The 9in-high device - called the Mosquito - has a range of 20 to 30 metres and emits a piercing sound only clearly audible to under-20s. The sound is said to be "extremely unpleasant", but not harmful.

The website of Compound Security Systems, maker of the Mosquito, further explains:

Mosquito is essentially a sounder unit that emits a very high (ultra-sonic) tone that is completely harmless even with long term use... Research has shown that the majority of people over the age of 25, have lost the ability to hear at this frequency range... The longer someone is exposed to the sound, the more annoying it becomes. Field trials have shown that teenagers are acutely aware of the Mosquito and usually move away from the area within just a couple of minutes. The field trails also suggest that after several uses, the groups of children / teenagers tend not to loiter in the areas covered by the Mosquito, even when it is not turned on.

I'm not sure about the science here, but it does seem plausible to me that younger people would be able to hear high-pitched sounds more easily than older people. If this does work, I would definitely consider installing it to annoy my college-age neighbors who enjoy playing basketball in their backyard at midnight. (Thanks to Eric for the link.)
Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 07, 2005
Comments (35)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
I thought the standard (and cheaper) method to discourage teens from hanging around was to play classical or opera music on your store's sound system.

If that doesn't work, bagpipes are guaranteed to get the job done.
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  01:37 PM
This is crazy, humans hear at a certain frequency and age has nothing to do with it.....unless your one of those people that start going deaf...
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  01:45 PM
amongst most of my freinds, neither classical nor bagpipes would constitute a reason to go away, bad POP on the other hand....

I think I have an idea of the kind of sound they are talking about, old TVs and monitors with the power on, but muted, will vibrate in their frames producing a really annoying high pitched hum, which is compounded by the fact that most people (even in the below 25 range) tend not to hear it.

this anti-loitering machene would have the potential to make me violent, and I like classical music. good thing I'm 21 now, and it won't be pointed at me.
Posted by mormagli  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  01:51 PM
"The field trails" (sic) would indicate it is not true. Too bad they can not spell!!
Posted by Fred  in  Florida  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  03:07 PM
Ask an audiologist - young people can hear up to near 20 kHz. When I was younger I could easily hear TV horizontal scaning and ultrasonic burglar alarms. As you age, that upper limit drops. I can no longer hear TV sets or burglar alarms (what a relief!). The premise is quite reasonable. Intense sound above 15 kHz should annoy young folks while us older types can't hear it at all.
Posted by John  in  Dallas, TX  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  06:09 PM
I wondered why nobody else could hear the annoying noise the tv makes when there's a black screen but it's still on. Didn't think age had anything to do with it, cool.
Posted by Zoe  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  06:30 PM
CaptainAl said:I thought the standard (and cheaper) method to discourage teens from hanging around was to play classical or opera music on your store's sound system.
If that doesn't work, bagpipes are guaranteed to get the job done.

OR you could even try country music.
Posted by Carmen  in  Vancouver  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  09:07 PM
I can't really think of any sound more annoying than a buzzing flourescent light. Many stores already feature this effect.
I don't guess that would be inaudible to over-25s, though (at least not to me).
Posted by Big Gary, mystified again  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Nov 07, 2005  at  10:04 PM
yeah, most country music would do it for me
Posted by mormagli  on  Tue Nov 08, 2005  at  12:43 AM
Sooo, I checked it out and I was wrong in my earlier post......
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Tue Nov 08, 2005  at  02:15 PM
So I will eventually stop hearing that whine from the TV? Great! How much longer will I hear it? I'm 37 already...
Posted by Yvonne  on  Tue Nov 08, 2005  at  02:57 PM
I've heard about this, and it seems to be true. Apparently your ability to hear high-frequency sounds deteriorates with age.

http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=267312
http://occmed.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/51/4/245

I realize those aren't definitive, but WTH. smile
Posted by Steph  in  Hawaii  on  Tue Nov 08, 2005  at  07:02 PM
Five hundred and eighty-one pounds is a lot of pounds for a loudspeaker that broadcasts a high-pitched tone. The science is sound enough, in the sense that hearing deteriorates with age, but it seems unlikely that a gang of unruly teenagers would be quiet enough to hear the tone; and what if they are wearing hoods, or headphones?

A more useful device would be something that blocks or interferes with mobile phone signals. The modern-day teenager cannot exist without strong mobile phone reception. The gang would be unwilling to lurk near a shop where their mobile phones do not work.

I would patent this idea myself, but I'm sure it has been thought of before. Active jamming devices are illegal in several countries, perhaps because they might cause aeroplanes to crash, and so some clever people at Iwate University in Morioka, Japan, have developed a kind of magnetic wood (!) which passively blocks the signals:
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn2461

It seems to be some kind of layered composite wood material that resembles modern-day tank armour. I wonder why they decided to start with wood as their base material, rather than - say - brick, or metal?
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  on  Tue Nov 08, 2005  at  08:35 PM
Where can I get some of this wood?
I want to line my office and my classroom with it.
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Tue Nov 08, 2005  at  09:22 PM
Because so many buildings in Japan are made or at least decorated with wood.

And yes as you get older you loose hearing. Including high sounds. I can hear all sorts of things my Dad cant.
Posted by chyca  on  Tue Nov 08, 2005  at  10:37 PM
Perhaps they need to get one of these...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5359306/site/newsweek/
Posted by Tony  in  Home  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  06:04 AM
I'm glad I got this on the frontpage because it's been annoying me as to wether its real or not, it appears that it might be though.

Thanks.
Posted by Eric  in  Lincoln, UK  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  08:25 AM
What happens when parents with tots congregate outside the stores and chit chat for a few or wait for others? I forsee tons of screaming and crying babies, many annoyingly restless kids, lots of spankings, and numerous parents and children who no longer patronize stores because of the unusual effects of visiting there.
Posted by Neal  in  Ky  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  08:25 AM
For all those wondering about this age-related hearing loss thing, it is real (i.e. demonstrated and well-documented) and it's called Presbycusis.
Posted by Miki  on  Wed Nov 30, 2005  at  01:41 AM
The New York Times ran an article about the Mosquito today, confirming that it does indeed seem to work as advertised. Here's part of the article:

It is too early to predict the device's future. Since an article about it appeared in The Grocer, a British trade magazine, Mr. Stapleton has become modestly famous, answering inquiries from hundreds of people and filling orders for dozens of the devices, not only in stores but also in places like railroad yards. He appeared recently on Richard & Judy, an Oprah-esque afternoon talk show, where the device successfully vexed all but one of the members of a girls' choir.

He is considering introducing a much louder unit that can be switched on in emergencies with a panic button. It would be most useful when youths swarm into stores and begin stealing en masse, a phenomenon known in Britain as steaming. The idea would be to blast them with such an unacceptably loud, high noise - a noise inaudible to older shoppers - that they would immediately leave.

"It's very difficult to shoplift," Mr. Stapleton said, "when you have your fingers in your ears."
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Nov 30, 2005  at  02:16 AM
my teacher made us read this article today. then he played high-frequency sounds on his computer. it hurt everyones ears. he said he couldn't hear it.but it just gave me a headache.
Posted by Chealsea  on  Mon Jan 09, 2006  at  04:32 PM
hi i dus any 1 no the freequency of the mosceeto as i would like 2 try it out. plz comtact me if so @ .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Posted by adam curtis  in  Uk  on  Sat Feb 11, 2006  at  12:26 PM
Try here for a cheaper alternative to the mosquito.

http://www.teenrepel.co.uk

TeenRepel is actually better finished, more attractive and more technically accomplished than the overpriced mosquito.

The TR-01 looks like a more manageable price for domestic users.
Posted by DH  in  UK  on  Fri Mar 17, 2006  at  05:28 PM
I hate this thing; people get the sound on their mobile (cell) phones at school and play it at assembalies and such. The teachers can't hear it and it gets worse. It's like having a migrane in your ears. 0_o
Posted by Person  in  UK  on  Wed May 17, 2006  at  04:07 AM
This totally works, I was in a demostration at the museum of science. Hearing is a mechanical process which breaks down over time the more you 'hear'. The demonstrator started the sound generator and asked people to raise their hands when they heard something as she turned the frequency lower. First my daughter (6yo) raised her hand and I thought she was kidding. A few turns later I heard it and my dad (60) thought I was kidding. Finally, a few turns later he heard it! Now..where can I get one?
Posted by Paul  in  Boston  on  Mon May 29, 2006  at  10:51 PM
I feel lucky and unlucky- I can hear this thing (there is one at the ABC in Yonkers) and I'm almost 40. Hmm.
Posted by SoxSweepAgain  in  NYC  on  Wed Jul 05, 2006  at  12:28 PM
Yeah, I know these work. A mall I've gone to a couple of times has one in a jewelry store, but I'm the only one of my group of friends who can hear it. I just know what it is because I've heard about them so much before. If you turn your head certain ways while they're on, though, you can barely hear them (we were shopping at a stand *right* outside the store.)
Posted by Kasu  in  Wisconsin  on  Tue Dec 19, 2006  at  04:59 PM
What was wrong with these people? As a "surly teen" I can definately say it works... and I can also say that any country which permits it is morally abhominable, lacking in ethics, prejudiced and extremelly ageist! Would it be allowed if it were women???
Posted by T-Man  on  Sun May 27, 2007  at  06:05 PM
ACPO CONFERENCE MOSQUITO anti social


My job as an Anti Social Behaviour Reduction Officer sees me looking on a daily basis at anything that can
Posted by ian whiteway  on  Wed Jun 20, 2007  at  08:49 AM
Wow. Now if they'd only make a device for adults that screens teenagers out entirely I could DIE HAPPY!!!
Posted by Twinky Pinky  in  Seattle, Wa  on  Sun Mar 09, 2008  at  04:13 AM
Comments: Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 > 
Commenting is no longer available for this post.