Abnormal sound detection: Halo Smart Sensors do not record audio

Tackling vaping can cut bad behaviour

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There have been concerns raised that smart sensors installed by schools to tackle the vaping problem might actively listen to pupils and therefore be a threat to their privacy. We would like to be clear that the HALO vape detectors do not record audio.

Instead, smart sensors like the HALO, use applied machine learning to understand the normal noise levels of a room. Once the HALO Smart Sensor has learnt the normal sound levels in a space it can send alerts if the threshold of noise above this is detected for a specified period of time.

This is labelled as aggression detection by the manufacturers, IPVideo, because prolonged loud noises could indicate bad behaviour by pupils. This could be an incident such as a fight, bullying, vandalism taking place or just perhaps that a large number of students have gathered in the toilets to chat or use smartphones which may not be allowed by the school.

The benefit of the alert is it provides the school staff with an opportunity to check the area and to take action as necessary. No audio would be recorded and students would need to be spoken with to get more information about any event.

Additionally, the HALO Smart Sensor, is pre-programmed to detect specific key words that could indicate a call for help. Each HALO device comes preloaded with five spoken keyword phrases that will trigger an alert. However, it is not recording any audio and will only send a notification when those words are said aloud.

Schools could choose to have alerts for a wide range of factors – the HALO 2C has 12 sensors and the new HALO 3C has 15 sensors, but most concentrate on those that help to detect vaping. HALO uses a dynamic vape detection algorithm to automatically learn the environment and alert when vaping is detected. Additionally, there are sensors that can detect when vaping is masked and the HALO is the only sensor that is able to trace THC oil given off by vape pens, or if cannabis is smoked.

Meanwhile as anti-social behaviour is often associated with groups of children vaping, schools have reported that the sensors have been beneficial at addressing both of these issues. However, the success will be based on the fact that vaping itself be reduced, with the aggression detection being an additional benefit.

Vaping by students is a massive challenge for schools and our customers have been driven by needing to improve their learning environment and stop the intimidation other pupils feel if there is vaping occurring. However, they are also relieved that the anti-social behaviour is reduced too.

Matthew Carpenter, Principal at Baxter College said, “It has transformed the amount of antisocial behaviour in toilets, children are more confident in going to the toilets. It has also reduced the number of students asking to go to the toilet during lessons.”

To find out more about the HALO Smart Sensors and how it can help schools please get in touch.