An Invisible Guardian for Infinity Pools

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Five years ago, a well-publicized study revealed that Los Angeles was home to over a quarter-million pools. In 2021, the number of pool permits nearly doubled from the year before as Angelenos settled into their Covid-era lifestyles. The so-called pool pandemic has sparked debate about water conservation, but another controversy roiling our backyards is about safety, specifically: to fence or not to fence?

For example, an Australian transplant recently took to Reddit to call out all of those beautiful infinity pools on Selling Sunset for not being secured with fences. Do Southern Californians not love their children and pets more than their egos? asked the provocative poster, noting that Oz requires the (admittedly unsightly) metal barriers around every water feature. Backlash ensued, naturally. Some Angelenos questioned the kind of parenting that substitutes walls for supervision or just plain common sense. After all, many adventuresome pets and kids (not to mention raccoons and other wildlife) can crawl right over a fence. Take that, Aussies!

Dunking and slamming aside, the fence-or-no-fence debate is a deadly serious one. Last year, drowning was the leading cause of injury or death for children aged 1-4 years, per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Estimates are that thousands of pets die every year by wandering into water features that they cannot negotiate their way out of. Clearly, something should be done.

No one knows this better than Sam Weitzman, the founder of London-based tech incubator Deep Innovations. Several years ago, Weitzman was enjoying an afternoon at a public pool in Tel Aviv with his wife and two sons when the oldest sank to the bottom of a wading pool unnoticed.

Everything turned out fine, but the experience left him so shaken that he decided to develop a fenceless pool security system using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The youthful Weitzman recalls that teaching an algorithm to distinguish small children and pets from adults (and then determine if they were approaching the danger zone) was a deceptively difficult one. But he knew it could be done, and earlier this summer, PoolScout, the most advanced pool monitoring system, was launched in the US.

Weitzman is quick to point out that PoolScout is not a fence replacement. Rather, the system can help when there is no option for a fence or if the homeowner doesn’t want a fence — as many Angelenos (and their realtors) clearly do not. He says the pool industry’s reaction was positive and instantaneous. Only weeks into beta testing, he received word that the system had saved two lives — one a young “climber” who was scared off by its audible alarm; the other a toddler whose father assumed she was upstairs taking a nap when she was in fact wandering out onto the patio. He received an alert on his iPhone and saved the day.

The Los Angeles Municipal Code currently requires a minimum five-foot fence or barrier-type enclosure around a residential swimming pool. It does not, however, mandate any secondary monitoring system. Weitzman says that the redundancy offered by his app has become essential to his customers’ peace of mind. He expects pool monitoring systems to become as ubiquitous as home alarms shortly. Yet, for now, PoolScout is the only pool-monitoring system that can distinguish toddlers from adults and pets in real time. And because it processes its data in the cloud, homeowners receive a live stream on their phones. Many people already use cameras to monitor their homes while away, but Weitzman says PoolScout’s 24/7 automated monitoring is there to let its clients know that the system is watching.

So far, Weitzman’s brainchild is off to an impressive start, winning an award at each of the three large trade events they have attended since March 2022. Though it has only been widely available since August of this year, PoolScout was the Smart Home Solutions Winner at this year’s Security Industry Association (SIA) Awards; it also won the Electronic Security Expo’s (ESX) for Home Automation/Home Control Systems and more recently won Tech Stars at the CEDIA Smart Home Expo.

“Home security technology has generally been focused on keeping undesirable people out of your home,” Weitzman observes, “while the Internet of Things has veered towards making the home more convenient. We’ve basically shone a light on an existing security hazard for homeowners and their loved ones and then significantly widened the margin for error. L.A. will always have a huge pool culture, and we’re looking forward to making the outdoor living space as safe, relaxing, and enjoyable as it should be.”

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