To curb teen vaping, schools across the U.S. welcome A.I. into their bathrooms

There’s a problem with bullying at schools. Since today’s students are also members of the post-millennial generation there’s, unsurprisingly, a reported problem with vaping as well. Who are you going to call? If you’re anything like 500 schools across the U.S. and Canada, the answer is simple: Soter Technologies.

Soter has developed a smart bathroom sensor called Fly Sense. It’s capable of detecting both indoor vaping and noises above a certain decibel threshold, indicative of bullying or fighting. Think of it like Amazon Alexa: Snitch edition — but in a totally good way.

“Fly Sense, and now Fly Sense 2.5, is the first Internet of Things device that was designed to detect sound anomalies in schools that suggest potential incidents of bullying,” Derek Peterson, CEO and founder of Soter Technologies, told Digital Trends. “After receiving feedback from school administrators about the explosion of the vaping problem with young people in secondary schools, an advanced vape detection and alert system was [also] integrated into the system solution. Developed for the education market, FlySense is the only dual sensor and real-time alert system of its kind on the market today.”

Fly Sense contains multiple sensors capable of making different environmental readings. Using air quality sensors and associated software, it can identify trends of vape use in a given location over time, thereby helping schools identify hot spots for reacting accordingly. Despite our quip about smart speakers, the devices do not actually record sound, but rather analyze decibel levels to identify anomalies. When a vaping signature or a sound anomaly is detected, an alert is then automatically sent via email, SMS text message, or push notification to a defined user list.

While Fly Sense could theoretically be installed anywhere, Peterson said that schools will typically use them in places like locker rooms or bathrooms. That’s because these represent “the soft underbelly of school security,” where there are no cameras, teachers or coaches to keep an eye on what happens.

Since being introduced in August 2017, Fly Sense is now shipping out more than 600 units per month. The cost of a single unit is $995 and includes cloud-based monitoring and alert service for one year. Each subsequent year costs $150 for the service.

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