RALEIGH, NC—It’s a nightmare for the hotel industry: bed bugs. Early detection and prevention is the name of the game when it comes to these pesky critters. Delta Five—not to be mistaken with Delta Force, the elite special mission unit of the United States Army—is on a mission to help hoteliers spot, track and eliminate bed bugs from guestrooms.
“Starting in late 2014, Delta Five evaluated multiple back-of-the-house processes with regard to safety, guest experience and operational efficiencies. In survey after survey, we noticed that bed bugs were the most adversely impactful. They evoked the strongest response from guests, staff, management and ownership—more than signs of smoking, dirty surfaces, soiled linens, stains and foreign material,” said Dr. Jason Janet, CEO of Delta Five, based here.
“Researching the problem further, we learned that 95% of hotel room bed bugs typically reside at or near the headboard wall, that approximately 3-4% of rooms have insects of some sort, and that 1-2% of rooms have bed bugs. Now, 1-2% may not sound like a lot, but it means that a 200-room hotel is likely to have two to four rooms with bed bugs, and that 360-720 guests could be exposed to these bed bugs annually. Coincidently, our field data shows that Delta Five captures bed bugs in 1.5% of installed rooms each month, and captures insects of all types in 3.4% of rooms each month.”
With information in hand, Janet and his team set out to develop a product that they believed would be the solution to this problem—Delta Five’s patented Automated Insect Monitoring System (AIMS), which is part of the Telemetered Pest Monitoring System (TPMS) product line.
Delta Five’s product requirements included the following:
- Round-the-clock monitoring
- Real-time reporting
- Ability to send images of the detected pests
- Low labor requirements
- Imperceptible to guests
- Catch bed bugs and other insects before they become a problem
- Cost effective
Composed of technologists, with core competencies in automation, robotics, sensors and pattern analysis, the Delta Five team says it has a 98% success rate in the detection of bed bugs and other insects, as well as preventing pest encounters with the Automated Insect Monitoring System.
“The Automated Insect Monitoring System is a network of internet-of-things devices (IoT), each the size of a deck of cards, discreetly hidden between the box spring and the headboard wall. Each device lures bed bugs and other insects with a combination of natural unscented pheromones and heat. The heated pheromones are channeled through one or two crevice-like ports, to which the insects are drawn and use to enter a removable chamber,” said Janet.
“Once inside the chamber, an imager notices the pest, shuts the door to entrap the pest, and sends an alert via WiFi to a person’s email or text. The alert, which also appears on the dashboard, contains a picture of the trapped bug, the building name, room number, bed and chamber, as well as a timestamp of when the insect was detected,” he said. “Once trapped, the insect cannot be a threat to a guest or the hotel’s reputation. The chamber that houses the insect can then be removed to dispose of the insect and reset the trap.”
Alerts can be received in three ways—sent to a recipient’s email, phone via SMS or through the web-based dashboard, which is a password-protected, portfolio-specific interface that shows the status of all AIMS devices, as well as all historical records of detections, captures, lure changes and more for data analytics.
“Because Delta Five alerts are digital, there is no limit on the number of alert recipients. Hotels can channel Delta Five alerts to housekeeping, engineering, directors, general managers, management and ownership,” he said. “This allows for consistent transparency. Consistent, because the alert contents (insect picture, date, time, location, etc.) are the same, regardless of the recipient. Other current approaches are non-digital, which requires a guest or hotel staff member to, first, accurately identify the insect and, second, pass information to and through other personnel; this approach is highly error-prone and can result in lost data—for which hotels are still libel. There’s transparency because all recipients have the same visibility to a bug problem, regardless of rank or responsibilities.”
Delta Five’s future plans include refining the products and services and, according to Janet, the company is continuing to grow its install base.
“In Q4 2017 we are adding a higher-resolution image that better enables pest identification, down to the species, gender and age. In the same quarter, we are introducing a single-chamber device that is lower cost, and for hotels that embrace the bronze tier response,” he said. “Additionally, while our bed bug lure outlasts all known competing products—and, by the way, is odorless—we plan to release a 12-month lure product in Q1 of 2018. Our services continue to grow, as well as the remote support of installations, operations and identification.”