Lice lazer creator shortlisted for this year’s European Inventor Awards

Stian Olsen

The inventor and one of the founders of the company Stingray Marine Solutions, Esben Beck, is one of three nominees in the category “small and medium-sized companies” during this year’s European Inventor Award organized by the European Patent Office (EPO). Beck is the first Norwegian to be nominated for the award ever.

Self-taught inventor, Esben Beck, has developed an underwater robot capable of repelling the threat using image recognition, artificial intelligence and lasers. Over 250 of his patented units are keeping watch over Norwegian fisheries, autonomously locating parasites, zapping them and safeguarding fish without using chemicals.

In 2010, inventor Esben Beck patented a machine that uses light rays to kill sea lice without harming their hosts or the environment. The Stingray is a submersible robot about the size of a refrigerator that tracks its surroundings and emits a powerful green laser beam in the direction of its target. Onboard computers use stereoscopic cameras and image recognition software to scan nearby fish and pinpoint sea lice on their body in just 7 milliseconds. A powerful computer onboard the Stingray then models the path of the salmon in the water, directs movable mirrors to lock its laser beam onto the sea louse and fires a short pulse of intense green light. The 532-nanometer-wavelength laser is lethal to the dark-coloured parasites but reflects off the salmon’s shiny scales. The Stingray can operate around the clock, killing tens of thousands of sea lice each day.

The reason for the nomination is Beck’s idea for removing salmon lice by using camera vision and lasers and AI, which was first presented and patented in 2010. The idea laid the foundation for Stingray Marine Solutions, a subsidiary of Beck Engineering established in 2012/2013, which launched industrial laser technology in integrated solutions for the aquaculture industry.

It is, of course, a great honour for me personally to be nominated, and it is very good for Stingray that we get international attention to our technology. But so important is that the aquaculture industry needs to strengthen its reputation – and we definitely believe that what we are doing is a big step in the right direction. That’s why it’s good with this kind of attention,” Beck wrote in an email to SalmonBusiness.

Stingray’s lazers are now in about 100 cages in Norway.

“This invention shows how high technology from an SME company can help an established industry that is worth billions,” said EPO President Antonio Campino of Beck’s nomination in a press release, VG said.

Beck emphasizes to SalmonBusiness that it is a point to show that Stingray does not eradicate salmon lice.

“A straightforward analogy is that if you kill all flies in a barn, they will come back again. The art is to keep constant low levels so that one achieves control in the cages and balances with the natural occurrence of salmon lice in the sea,” Beck explained.

The award will be held on 20 June in Vienna, Austria


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