IoT Detects Bedbugs in Hotels

IoT Detects Bedbugs in Hotels


MachineQ has partnered with Spotta to detect the presence of bedbugs in guest bed mattresses with LoRaWAN connectivity, AI analysis

Hotel bedbug infestation is on the rise worldwide. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these blood-thirsty insects are resurging where people sleep—including apartments, dorms and single-family homes.

In fact, efforts to address bedbugs have reportedly cost hotels in the U.S. $111,000 per hotel brand. Detecting one of these bugs that typically hide in the ribbing of the mattress corner is not only disturbing for hotel guests, but it’s a reputational hit for hotels that can be subject to negative social media reviews.

IoT technology is helping hotels, mostly in Europe and the UK, detect the parasitic insects before the guests do, with wireless sensors and AI. The solution has now come to the U.S.

Philadelphia-based Comcast subsidiary MachineQ joined forces in December 2023, with bedbug monitoring solution company Spotta to offer a LoRaWAN-based solution to bedbugs in hotel rooms in North America and globally. MachineQ offers IoT solutions and a network connectivity platform on which those solutions are built, said Bryan Witkowski, MachineQ’s head of strategic planning and a co-founder.

Expanding IoT Hospitality Platform

MachineQ already offers a platform of IoT solutions for the hospitality industry and, with the Spotta partnership, it is including bedbug monitoring among them.

MachineQ launched in 2016 as a subsidiary of Comcast and the company’s strategy shifted three years later to offer an IoT network connectivity platform. Since then, it has been building solutions leveraging the scalable platform for multiple verticals, including hospitality.

Since that time the company has been adding on complementary sensor solutions including leak detection, indoor air quality, HVAC control, mold, vape and smoke detection. The company then began working with Spotta to add the pest control solution for tracking bedbugs.

Analyzing and Validating Bedbugs

Spotta’s cofounders have a history in technology development which they brought to what is a historic problem for the hospitality industry. “We came across this space and saw that basically no one had innovated on pest control for twenty or thirty years,” said Robert Fryers, CEO and cofounder at Spotta.

The Spotta team began developing a solution that could be low cost, easy to use, and un-obtrusive for both guests and staff. The company released its solution for hospitality and the systems are in use in forestry and agriculture as well.

The Bed Pod system launched in 2019, and thus far in Europe and the UK the devices have provided a total of 2.5 million nights of coverage in hotel rooms. With the partnership with MachineQ, Spotta will be expanding its presence in North America.

The resulting Bed Pod sensors include pheromones to attract bedbugs, AI to detect the presence of bedbugs and an alerting system for hotel management so that they can address the problem before visitors ever notice them.

Battery-Powered Bedbug Sensor

Spotta’s low-cost, battery-powered device is about the size of a deck of cards. It can be deployed affordably “at scale, to tens of thousands of rooms,” Fryers said.

The Bed Pod tucks underneath a bed’s mattress at the headboard where bedbugs are more frequently found, able to run for a full year with a single AA battery. The device location is strategized to be located on the typical path that bedbugs take from their nests to the sleeping guests.

The pod constantly releases a pheromone that can be detected by the bugs but is indiscernible to humans. The bugs are in fact attracted to the smell, and if they are present, they will enter the device. Inside the device a set of sensors detect the presence of an insect based on shape, color and texture.

LoRaWAN’s Role

When that sensor data is positive, the device sends detection data via LoRaWAN to gateways deployed around the property. The gateways then forward that data (including an image) to the cloud-based server, or local server if the hotel prefers, over an Ethernet or cellular connection.

Once received at the server level, the data goes through further verification based on machine learning algorithms. If a bedbug is confirmed, the system then alerts the hotel management. That can be accomplished through the selected channel such as an e-mail to the property manager on sites.

The device can be set to send a message every day to confirm that it is present and in operation.

Leveraging Existing Networks

Many hotels already have LoRaWAN gateways installed onsite for purposes such as the staff duress systems. They can typically provide full coverage of a mid-sized hotel when installed at every other floor —often in opposite corners, said Witkowski. Because LoRaWAN is a low-power and long-range technology, there can typically be one gateway for every 10 to 30 Wi-Fi access points, he said “and that gives you pervasive coverage through the room through the bedsprings.”

Gateways are often installed in IDF IT closets. The ability to send an image via LoRa —which demands small packets of data—is part of the engineering challenge Spotta overcame, the company says.

“Using the output optical sensor, taking that frame of the potential bedbug, and sending that over LoRa is part of what makes this so ingenious,” said Witkowski.

 AI Detection Algorithm

In the future, MachineQ can offer the solution using the Spotta AI services within its own software platform. “We’re integrating that into the broader platform as well over time,” said Witkowski.

That single technology source is an important attribute for hotels that are seeking to engage just one technology that is flexible enough to serve multiple applications.

“General managers are trying to avoid application creep,” Witkowski said, with numerous disparate systems for different features within the hotel. “We’re presenting multiple solutions but they’re typically interacting with a property management system as well and we make it easy to feed data into those systems.”

MachineQ can install and service the solution. “In fact, Comcast technicians can put in the network they’ll put in the sensors they’ll set everything up they’ll train about the hotel staff on how to use it,” said Witkowski.

With Spotta, “we replace hotels using their guest as their way of finding out about bugs. We detect it first so the hotel can deal with it quickly before people get affected,” Fryers said.

Key Takeaways:

  • Comcast’s MachineQ has added Spotta bedbug protection to its IoT services for hotels.
  • Spotta’s AI detection analyzes and validates that a bedbug is inside the trap. If a bedbug has been identified, the data, including an image, is sent with the exact time and location to the cloud using MachineQ’s network.


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