With school starting up again, parents may be anxious about two school epidemics: vaping and bullying. Luckily, thanks to Long Island’s own Soter Technologies, schools may be able to nip both problems in the bud this year.
Soter Technologies’ History
Soter Technologies, based in Ronkonkoma, was founded in 2014 and originally known as “Digital Fly,” before changing its name in 2017.
“We got that name from Soteria, the Greek goddess of safety,” Derek Peterson, Bay Shore native as well as CEO and founder of the company, said. “And that’s what we do — we like to make products to keep people safe.”
Peterson is an engineer and a computer scientist by trade. Digital Fly started off aiming to protect students with an app — also called Digital Fly — that monitors social media activity to detect potential bullying and threats on the internet. Digital Fly was able to identify potential threats and report them to the authorities.
Soter Technologies’ Products
In 2017, after the rebranding, they created a gadget called Fly Sense — which Soter calls “the world’s first vape detection system.”
Fly Sense also doubles as an anti-bullying technology. Since cameras and microphones are not allowed in certain places such as bathrooms, the device picks up on sound anomalies in the room to detect bullying, and air quality to detect vaping.
“Schools came to us asking, ‘Can you help us with physical fighting and bullying, all thee old school bullying, that’s going on?’” Peterson said. “The nature of engineers is to solve a problem. So we started working on a device to understand potentially the sound of someone being bullied in the bathroom and we did that by listening to sound anomalies. So we monitor for sounds at a human voice frequency, ignoring the sounds of toilet bowls slamming, doors closing, all that. We can detect spikes in the frequency that indicate someone is being pushed around or bullied.”
As for the vaping, Fly Sense checks the air for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may indicate that a student is vaping in the bathroom.
When either vaping or bullying is detected, Soter reports it to the schools — who take it from there.
According to Peterson, Fly Sense is in its sixth generation of the product line and is utilized by many Long Island school districts. In 2017, it started out being used in only three states, but now it is used in all 50 states and 22 different countries, he said.
Soter Technologies plans a new product line for the fall to continue to help schools — but it’s a surprise for now.