This Sensor Is a Party Narc

By Melanie Ehrenkranz on at

Amid a wave of nightmarish Airbnb incidents, in which hosts have been caught spying on guests without their consent, a company called NoiseAware is getting some attention for its upcoming, internet-connected party-alarm sensors. They don’t record audio or video, but they can surveil guests and fire out an alert if it sounds like someone is throwing a rager.

According to its website, NoiseAware’s existing product takes a few minutes to plug into a wall and get the service up and running to monitor the noise level at a property. Owners can set a certain noise threshold, and if it’s surpassed, they’ll get a notification via text or email “immediately.”

The company, which recently announced preorders for a third-generation update and a new outdoor sensor, claims its service isn’t invading the privacy of guests. NoiseAware states on its website that its “patent pending technology ensures that no content is recorded.” Owners can access noise level data from a dashboard, but this allegedly doesn’t include any audio.

It’s easy to imagine the possible use cases for this tech, the most obvious being to monitor whether someone is throwing a non-approved party, as the company’s “party alarm” features so clearly suggest. This doesn’t have to apply to home rental services—an overly concerned parent, for instance, might install such a sensor—but it’s clear NoiseAware is targeting the likes of Airbnb hosts. In fact, the company published a blog post last month that’s essentially a glorified press release for using Airbnb.

While this type of surveillance isn’t necessarily as invasive as watching or listening to guests nonconsensually, it marks yet another way in which hosts can covertly keep tabs on the happenings of people staying at their properties. It’s not inherently a bad thing to want to ensure that strangers aren’t abusing their stay, but rigging your home in sensors poses a question: At what point have you edged past the line from being cautious to being invasive? [The Verge]