This article originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.
As both residential and commercial integrators know, one of the biggest challenges facing the security industry is reducing and eliminating false alarms.
Common triggers for false alarms include pets, mechanical motion like robot vacuums, and even changes in temperature or light. If the security system believes these are human threats, it could result in emergency services being deployed unnecessarily, eventually leading to fines for the property owner or the security company. Property owners want peace of mind that comes from knowing that if their alarm is tripped, help will be dispatched as soon as possible.
According to Parks Associates data, 62% of security system owners reported that their systems triggered “too many” false alarms in the last 12 months. To retain customers, security companies must prioritize reducing false alarms.
Verification methods have evolved over the years. Some methods include calling the homeowner, reviewing a live camera feed, using PIRs to detect motion, or relying on contemporaneous detections from contact and motion sensors.
Still, the industry has yet to find a truly foolproof solution that eliminates false alarms while balancing customers’ need for maximum coverage and privacy in a cost-effective, easy-to-use system. For too long, the security industry has been forced to rely on technologies both recent (AI-enabled cameras) and old (PIRs) that are unsuccessful in making this critical tradeoff.
These solutions either cannot tell what is moving (pet or person) or would require more sensors than a customer would reasonably accept. In either instance, this repeated inability to meet a core customer’s need damages brand reputations and ignites customer attrition. In fact, false alarms are a top reason households give when canceling monitoring services according to Parks Associates.
To address this pain point, industry leaders are moving beyond simple detection and localization techniques found in traditional security systems, instead focusing on classifying the source of motion. This provides the needed context to verify the presence of a real intruder before notifying customers or Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs)/emergency services.
Wi-Fi Sensing Technology
Many security companies rely on smart cameras for motion classification; however, this method may be perceived as infringing on customers' privacy and can only provide line-of-sight coverage.
To address these critical gaps, non-camera solutions are now entering the market. Powered by AI, these advanced systems use Wi-Fi sensing technology and are specifically designed to identify human presence within seconds throughout a home without sacrificing privacy. They achieve this by analyzing changes in Wi-Fi signals caused by motion to detect the distinct characteristics of human and non-human presence.
Here’s how Wi-Fi sensing works: Wi-Fi signals function similarly to waves in a pool – as you move around the pool, waves bounce, break and bend around objects. In residential and commercial spaces, Wi-Fi signals move around walls, ceilings, objects and people. When advanced AI and machine learning capabilities are deployed against Wi-Fi signals, they can be used to sense presence.
By analyzing and interpreting Wi-Fi signals, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and security systems can not only detect presence and where it is occurring, but also classify the source as human or non-human. For example, as a person enters a space, Wi-Fi sensing-enabled systems can detect the new presence, tell that it is in the bedroom zone, and then distinguish if it is a human or not before deciding whether to alert the end-user.
In addition to intrusion detection and alarm verification, Wi-FI sensing can also be used for fall detection, and sleep and activity insights, enabling loved ones to age in place safely and independently.
Wi-Fi sensing and motion classification capabilities enable security companies to offer an enhanced security experience that reduces false alarms, improves overall system effectiveness and positions themselves as leaders in the industry.
The security industry is on the precipice of finally fulfilling the promise of maximum coverage without false alarms. Security companies’ customer retention, brand reputation, and revenue growth rely on reducing – or eliminating – false alarms and creating truly verified alarms. Doing so successfully requires security solutions that embrace innovation and new technology from the get-go.
Wi-Fi sensing has added a valuable tool to security companies’ false alarm-fighting toolbox. The ability to classify motion without the use of cameras has the potential to transform the industry. Those who do it, and do it right, will outpace competitors and build a loyal following of safe, happy customers.
Joe Valencia is Chief Product Officer of Origin AI, a provider of Wi-Fi sensing technology. Learn more at www.originwirelessai.com.