Many Floridians consider an outdoor pool as essential to their homes as a garage. But insurance companies consider a home pool to be a major liability, and for good reason. With temperatures rising, young ones and pets are drawn to the cool water year-round — potentially with disastrous consequences. According to the American Pediatric Association, the plurality of injury-related deaths in children ages 1-4 are water-related. Meanwhile, Nationwide Insurance estimates that thousands of pets drown in home pools every year.
Now, a tech startup has developed a way for homeowners to get maximum peace of mind; an advanced pool monitoring system called PoolScout.
Sam Weitzman, the founder behind PoolScout, was inspired by a scary incident involving his son at a community pool a couple of years ago. Having turned his back for just moments to take a photo, he was stunned to find his older child face down at the bottom of a wading pool. “There is almost no margin of error in that type of situation; it is literally a life-or-death scenario,” Weitzman recalls. “The moment we got home, I immediately started thinking about a smart, commercially viable solution to maximize that response margin.”
Soon, PoolScout was being developed by Weitzman’s tech company, Deep Innovations. More than a simple tool, the platform combines multiple technologies including the cloud, cameras and artificial intelligence, or AI, to constantly monitor a pool area. If PoolScout’s “brain” senses an unattended toddler or a pet getting too close to the water, it simultaneously blares a loud aural alarm and sends a notification to the homeowner’s smartphone. Thanks to machine learning, or ML, the system is constantly learning from false alarms as well as successful interventions. Weitzman remembers one such save that occurred in beta testing: a girl who was supposed to be sleeping climbed over a pool fence and nearly jumped in, but was scared off by the alarm. In another case, a distracted father whisked his young child away from the edge of his pool after receiving a notification from PoolScout on his iPhone.
As summer draws to a close Weitzman and his team are partnering with various foundations and organizations to raise awareness for all-year round water safety. One such initiative is a partnership with the River Kelly Fund in which PoolScout Kits are being given away in an effort to raise water safety awareness.
Weitzman stresses that PoolScout is not a substitute for adult supervision or physical barriers. However, he says that the app does provide a redundant and unobtrusive system that has already delivered peace of mind to many. “It’s physically impossible to monitor your pool at all times,” Weitzman says, “but PoolScout can do it for you.”
An added benefit is that the PoolScout app — which works on Android or iOS phones — livestreams the pool area in real time. This way, homeowners never have to wonder if the system is turned on. And when the system detects what Weitzman describes as an “unsafe scenario,” it immediately displays the most relevant corrective actions, as well as the owner’s emergency contacts. “This not only saves precious seconds,” Weitzman says, “but reduces the chances of a pool owner freezing or panicking in the moment.”
There are now an estimated 1.6 million home pools in Florida alone, but PoolScout, which was released just last month, is currently the only pool-monitoring system with the ability to track, monitor, and distinguish toddlers from adults and pets in real-time on the market. And it’s already on a roll, winning top honors at this year’s Electronic Securities Expo and Security Industry Association Awards.
As the app attracts more users, Weitzman expects PoolScout to become even more effective and, thanks to its integrated AI and ML capabilities, more accurate. “You should be able to enjoy your pool with maximum peace of mind,” he says, “you shouldn’t have to worry about a tragedy or accident while you’re not enjoying it. That’s why we call PoolScout the future of pool safety.”