The idea behind vape detectors is the same behind smoke detectors. When it detects smoke/vape, it is supposed to alert you. With smoke detectors, the goal is to alert everyone around so they can evacuate. Vape detectors, on the other hand, are designed to be more discreet. This leads to the question of reliability.
You might have seen articles like this from Wired which features ways that teens try to circumvent vape detectors in their school. Notably, it features students trying to avoid detection by exhaling into the sleeves of their shirts. While this may be a drawback for other detectors, 3D Sense is not limited by this as it detects particles much smaller than what is filtered out by shirt sleeves.
Vape detectors are generally very reliable. The 3D Sense detector, for example, has been meticulously engineered and calibrated to minimize false-positive and only send alerts when vaping is likely. However, they can sometimes give false alerts.
Depending on which sensor you are using, different non-vaping events can set a vape detector off. For instance, vape detectors in a locker room have the chance of being set off from steam from a shower. With 3D Sense, this is rare, however. Because it has been engineered to only send an alert to the events strongly associated with vaping, the chance for false-positives is low.
Vape detectors are generally pretty good at detecting when students vape, but they don’t stop there. One of the most powerful features of any vape detector has nothing to do with its design, but the psychology behind it. The mere presence of a vape detector in a ceiling has been shown to reduce vaping dramatically. And even for students who persist, 3D Sense has tamper-detection so you’ll know if a student tries to mess with it. And it can be synced with security footage to give an accurate idea of who might be responsible for vaping.
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