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AI Case Study

US and Canada schools achieve a 70% decrease in students vaping at bathrooms with the use of machine learning

There are more than 200 schools in the US and Canada that rely on the use of machine learning to combat vaping and bullying among students. Fly Sense, the device developed by Soter Technologies, is a cloud-connected sensor that can detect vaping and elevated sound levels that possibly indicate fighting or bullying. Machine learning is used to train the device to detect the water vapor signature of the different types of vaping devices. Soter Technologies claims that it can detect vaping with a 70-80% accuracy and that schools using the technology have achieved a 70% decrease in average.


Public And Social Sector

Education And Academia

Project Overview

"Soter Technologies originally developed its Fly Sense device with bullying detection in mind. But schools began asking the company about whether it could also help monitor the rise of vaping—also known as Juuling because of the popular Juul vape pens—among students. In response, the company made Fly Sense into a cloud-connected sensor capable of detecting both the telltale signatures of vaping and elevated sound levels that might indicate fighting or bullying.

“Schools typically install the system and see a spike of vaping incidents in the first two weeks,” says Derek Peterson, CEO of Soter Technologies. “And then as they continue to go through their school policy plan of reprimanding the students, they start to see vaping incidents in those locations tail off.”

More than 200 schools in the United States and Canada have already installed Fly Sense, including schools across at least 23 states. Four school districts in Florida and California have gone all out to become “full-deployment districts” using the Fly Sense system. Other schools are quickly catching on. The company shipped out more than 400 Fly Sense devices in the past month, Peterson says.

The Fly Sense device uses machine-learning AI that has been trained to detect the water vapor signature coming from vaping pens, e-cigarettes, and other vaping paraphernalia. Most vaping devices popular among students consist of a flavored vaping liquid—sometimes called “vape juice”—that includes a hefty dose of addictive nicotine. Once installed, each Fly Sense device can learn the baseline patterns of water vapor in a given bathroom so that the system’s thresholds for what counts as an anomaly can be adjusted accordingly.

But AI-boosted bathroom surveillance still needs plenty of human help. Whenever a suspected vaping incident triggers an investigation, schools can confirm whether or not the Fly Sense alert had correctly identified vaping or was a false positive. That feedback helps train the system to become progressively more accurate over time.

Schools that install Fly Sense in their bathrooms get access to Soter Technologies’ automated cloud platform that tracks the data being collected by Fly Sense and manages the alert system. School administrators can even manage the system so that only specific teachers will receive alerts on their phones from certain Fly Sense devices.

The dual-purpose mission of Fly Sense means that it also has the capability to keep watch for bullying or fighting by detecting sound levels based on decibels. If the sounds in a bathroom or locker room exceed a certain sound threshold—something that can be adjusted by school administrators—that can trigger a similar mobile alert that could prompt a principal or teacher to go investigate. At the same time, the system’s lack of natural-language recognition or identification of voices belonging to particular individuals is meant to avoid student privacy concerns."

Reported Results

"Soter Technologies claims that the Fly Sense system generally achieves a vaping detection accuracy of between 70 and 80 percent, and that the system has helped schools achieve a 70 percent decrease, on average, in vaping incidents at locations where the system is installed."



Legal And Compliance



"Schools have been removing bathroom doors, posting bathroom monitors, and even closing bathrooms in their struggles to handle the surging popularity of vaping among middle school and high school students."



"Water vapor signature coming from vaping pens, e-cigarettes, and other vaping paraphernalia."

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