Most people associate smart home technology with using their voice to turn things on and off or having a motion-detecting camera monitor their porch to ensure no one steals their online shopping delivery. The truth is, smart home capabilities are far more sophisticated than that, and a truly connected smart home can make life a lot more convenient. Discreet motion sensing using wireless signals with WiFi Motion is just one example of the incredible capabilities of wireless networks and the intelligent devices they connect.
Understandably, these smart home functions come with some privacy concerns. Who wouldn’t wonder about the potential implications of devices monitoring your every move? Since most people would like to keep what happens inside their homes private from the outside world, it’s easy to see why having cameras and microphones on all the time would make us nervous.
There is an important difference, however, between voice-activated devices and cameras, and our WiFi Motion technology: the former both capture personally identifiable information. Voices and faces are unique, and so these sounds and images can be used to distinguish between individuals. Cameras and microphones can also collect contextual information such as what you are doing in a room or the meaning of your words. This information is often used to help the smart home “learn” it’s inhabitants’ likes and behaviors, so that it can become even more useful by anticipating needs before the person has to ask.
What makes WiFi Motion different?
WiFi Motion uses a technology called RF sensing, which measures and interprets disruptions in WiFi signals to detect motion. It’s different from other smart home security options that use cameras and microphones because it only senses motion using WiFi signals—it doesn’t “see” or “listen” like a camera or microphone would. WiFi Motion doesn’t collect contextual information, such as the type of motion that occurred. For example, WiFi Motion can sense that a person is moving around in your living room, but it can’t sense the specific type of movement, such as jumping jacks.
Because of the way we collect and store data, Cognitive Systems doesn’t have the ability to share personal information with third parties. The anonymized motion data WiFi Motion collects is highly encrypted and doesn’t allow for any personal information to be identified. Even if we were asked for data by government, regulatory or policing bodies, we could not possibly identify a consumer using WiFi Motion in their home, even if we tried. This built-in privacy safeguard makes WiFi Motion ideal for monitoring motion in rooms where you wouldn’t feel comfortable installing a camera, like bedrooms and bathrooms, but also gives you peace of mind for your entire family and your routines.
Keeping privacy paramount when working with partners
Privacy is kept top of mind when it comes to how our technology works within consumer apps as well. With the Plume smart home app, for example, we have several measures in place that protect the motion data that’s collected.
WiFi Motion is only one function of the Plume smart home app, so Plume holds 100% of the customer information — our staff or servers don’t ever see identifiable customer information. We call this “keeping an air-gap” between the customer’s identity and their motion data.
For example, if “Joe” is using the Plume app in his home, data is being collected by two distinct systems: our motion cloud and the ISP cloud. The ISP collects data about “Joe’s account,” and encrypts that information so on our end, “Joe’s account” becomes an encrypted sequence of numbers and letters. We interpret WiFi signals in a home to know that motion is happening, but we are unable to discern that it is Joe’s home, compared to his neighbour, compared to a home on the other side of the country.
All communications between our cloud and our partner’s cloud are encrypted per industry standards, and the end user also has the option to retrieve and delete their anonymized data from our cloud.
A long-term commitment to privacy protection
Discreet motion sensing is one of the main benefits that WiFi Motion provides. Privacy and security are top priorities in our collaborations with partners and with the broader industry. We’re proud to offer this assurance to our customers and end-users of WiFi Motion, no matter which consumer app they’re using to manage their smart home network.
More Resources for WiFi Motion and Privacy