Tiny Device Will Detect Domestic Drones

A new project seeks to alert homeowners if there’s a drone nearby.

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The company's founder says he thinks people will attach the Drone Shield to their fences or roofs to protect their home from surveillance.

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Worried about drones spying on you? Soon, a device might be able to send you text and email alerts that let you know when a drone is nearby.

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A Washington, D.C.-based engineer is working on the "Drone Shield," a small, Wi-Fi-connected device that uses a microphone to detect a drone's "acoustic signatures" (sound frequency and spectrum) when it's within range.

The company's founder, John Franklin, who has been working in aerospace engineering for seven years, says he hopes to start selling the device sometime this year. He is using the Kickstarter-like Indiegogo to finance the project.

The device will cost $69 and will be about the size of a USB thumb drive. It will use Raspberry Pi – a tiny, $25 computer – and commercially available microphones to detect drones. He says he imagines that people will attach the Drone Shield to their fences or roofs to protect their home from surveillance.

"People will get the alert and then close their blinds," Franklin says.

 

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He is currently working on an open-source database of drone sounds that the detector will check what it's hearing against. Other devices with motors, such as lawn mowers and weed-whackers, will also be included to reduce false positives. Drone owners will be asked to record the sound of their drones to be included in the database. When the Drone Shield identifies a drone, it'll flash and send an email and text message alert to a homeowner.

Franklin says that most commercially available drones have to come relatively close to a home in order to spy. More sophisticated drones, such as Predators, would fly too high to detect.

He got the idea for the device after getting into a bit of hot water with his neighbor, which Franklin says alerted him to the reality of people's concerns about drones.

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"I bought a [drone] from Amazon and was going to use it to look at my roof. The wind took it and I crashed it into my neighbor's yard. It freaked him out once he noticed it had a camera on it," Franklin says. "It sort of dawned on me that it's so easy to invade someone's privacy with a couple hundred dollar drone."

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