Soter Technologies uses innovative sensors and AI technology to help combat vaping and bullying in schools, offering a cutting-edge solution to protecting children's physical and mental wellbeing. In this article, we explore how their award-winning FlySense® vape detection system and MyAdvocate app hope to create a safer, healthier future for the next generation.
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Threats to Children’s Health at School
In recent years, vaping has grown in popularity, not only among adults but among young people and even children. Vaping is highly addictive and exposes users to toxic substances. While the long-term health impacts of vaping remain unclear due to its newness, a wide body of research already exists that links vaping with an increased risk of a range of diseases and illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. In 2019, a sudden outbreak of severe and sudden vaping-related lung problems emerged, doctors coined the illness “e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury” (EVALI).
In 2022, roughly 10% of US middle and high school students were using e-cigarettes. From 2022 to 2023, the number of children trying vaping increased by 50%. Given the increasing popularity of this dangerous activity among young people, it is important to implement prevention strategies to protect the health of the next generation.
Another major issue that young people face is bullying. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around one in five children report being bullied at school. Children who are bullied are at risk of physical injury as well as social and emotional distress. They are at an increased risk of mental health issues like anxiety and depression and they are more likely to face difficulties sleeping. Children who are bullied are also less likely to complete school.
There is an urgent need to protect the physical and mental health of children in schools.
Using Cutting-Edge Technology to Increase Health and Safety in Schools
Soter Technologies, a US-based safety and security company focused on using cutting-edge sensors, IoT, and software technology to solve safety challenges for various industries, has developed a solution that seeks to enhance child health and safety in schools. The innovation utilizes sensors to detect the chemical signature vape emissions; upon detecting emissions, the system triggers an alert to appropriate personnel. The sensors also monitor ambient noise levels, triggering alerts when noise patterns reflect those indicative of bullying. These two functions allow the FlySense® FS286L vape detection solution with integrated LoRaWAN® connectivity to detect and alert school personnel when vaping or bullying may be taking place, helping schools to promote safer and healthier environments.
The FlySense® FS286L is the world’s first vape detector and bullying solution and is exemplary of how wireless technology can be leveraged into solutions that address real-world challenges.
The innovation uses a LoRaWAN radio, although it does not have a microphone or recording capabilities to ensure that safety and privacy are protected. It also connects to cellular and Wi-Fi networks as well as other wired and wireless networks to enable connectivity to appropriate personnel in a timely fashion.
The FlySense® Vape Detector has already been granted 9 patents, with others pending. Its capabilities include real-time vape detection, real-time sound anomaly detection (allowing for real-time bullying detection), and air quality monitoring. The innovation instantly sends emails and texts without delays so that school staff can follow up on the alerts and take appropriate action to protect its students.
The technology can detect the vaping of various products, including THC and nicotine. It also empowers school staff to gain some control over areas where it is inappropriate to place cameras or microphones.
The system demonstrates how sensor technology can be leveraged to help tackle some of the current challenges that face our school systems and reduce some of the current risks posed to the health and safety of young people.
Soter Technologies recently received the 2023 IoT Evolution LPWAN Excellence Award from IoT Evolution World and Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) for its innovation - the FlySense® FS286L vape detection solution with integrated LoRaWAN® connectivity. This is an important award that highlights achievements in Low Power WAN (LPWAN) technologies, including LoRaWAN and other low-power wireless technologies.
The award was presented to Soter for recognition of its creativity and innovation in addressing the growing problem of vaping in school with its simple and secure detection and alert technology.
Supporting Vape Recovery
Soter Technologies has gone one step further than just detecting and alerting vaping; they also support vape recovery with MyAdvocate to help those seeking to overcome addiction to vaping.
The solution of MyAdvocate comes in the form of an AI-powered mobile app that helps users track their respiratory improvement score in less than 2 minutes per day. In particular, the app is geared to help young people quit this harmful addiction.
The app leverages rapid biometric cough signature analysis technology to compare Forced Cough Vocalization (FCV) signatures (intentional coughs produced by the app user), to the user's baseline coughs. This enables the app to indicate a person’s respiratory improvement over the course of using the app.
With MyAdvocate, Soter Technologies offers a tool that tackles the youth vaping epidemic. Rather than punishing young people when they are addicted to vaping, it offers a practical solution to help them overcome their nicotine addiction.
Overall, Soter Technologies has made an important contribution to tackling the accelerating youth vaping epidemic. Solutions, like the FlySense® FS286L vape detection solution and the MyAdvocate app, represent innovative tools that will help to prevent vaping in schools and tackle vaping addiction in young people. Simultaneously, FlySense® also provides a tool to help tackle the problem of bullying in schools. While it is not a definitive solution, it is an important tool in helping school staff gain some control of areas where video or microphone monitoring is not appropriate.
The solutions will hopefully be a step in the right direction to protecting the health and safety of children and teens. Both their mental and physical health stand to benefit from protection from vaping and bullying. In the coming years, we may see more innovative technologies developed to further support the health and safety of this vulnerable group.
References and Further Reading
CDC (2023). Fast Facts: Preventing Bullying [online]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/bullyingresearch/fastfact.html
Soter Technologies. (2023). FlySense [online]. Available at: https://www.sotertechnologies.com/solutions/flysense/
Groner, J. (2022). Health effects of electronic cigarettes. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 52(6), p. 101202. doi.org/10.1016/j.cppeds.2022.101202.
CDC (2023). More than 2.5 Million Youth Reported E-Cigarette Use in 2022 [online]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p1007-e-cigarette-use.html
Yahoo Finance. (2023). MyAdvocate, AI Cough Analysis Technology to Help Young People Quit Harmful Smoking and Vaping Habit. [online]. Available at: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/myadvocate-ai-cough-analysis-technology-170000552.html (Accessed October 2023)
CDC (2023). Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products [online]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html
Soter Technologies (2023). The world’s first vape detector & bullying solution [online]. Available at: https://www.sotertechnologies.com/