Ruben Bagues/Ken Treloar/Tag Hartman-Simkins
Toilet Tech

Schools Are Installing Bathroom Surveillance Systems to Bust Vapers

byKristin Houser
10. 31. 18
Ruben Bagues/Ken Treloar/Tag Hartman-Simkins

They're using AI to crack down on teen vaping.

AI Spies

The Food and Drug Administration has made a big push in recent months to crack down on the marketing of e-cigarettes to minors. It’s sent hundreds of warning letters to manufacturers, fined a handful, and even raided the headquarters of popular vape-maker Juul.

Now, schools across the U.S. and Canada are taking a different approach by using AI-powered surveillance devices to catch students vaping — where else? — in bathrooms.

Potty Mouth

According to a new story in IEEE Spectrum, more than 200 schools in the U.S. and Canada are currently using Fly Sense, an AI-powered vaping detection system. Since most underage school vaping takes place in bathrooms — where the schools aren’t legally allowed to install cameras — Fly Sense detects vaping using other types of sensors.

Fly Sense’s sensors detect the chemical signatures of vaping and send real-time text or email alerts to school officials. The school can program the vaping detection system to send these alerts to different staff members depending on the time of day.

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Flawed but Effective

Fly Sense maker Soter Technologies claims the system is between 70 and 80 percent accurate at detecting vaping — no word on how the people receiving the alerts feel about every one in five being a false alarm.

According to Soter, even if it’s not 100 percent accurate, Fly Sense might scare students vape-free — locations with the system installed see an average decrease in vaping of 70 percent.

So, while installing any surveillance device in a bathroom isn’t exactly ideal, until we can find a way to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors, Fly Sense can at least help us keep students from vaping when they’re supposed to be learning.

READ MORE: Schools Enlist AI to Detect Vaping and Bullies in Bathrooms [IEEE Spectrum]

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More on vaping: The FDA Just Raided the Headquarters of E-Cigarette Maker Juul


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