The Person Sensor (SEN21231) by Useful Sensors: A clever addition to ESPHome

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The Person Sensor (SEN21231) from Useful Sensors Inc. is ingeniously crafted to serve as a valuable input for a more extensive system. Imagine a kiosk display that awakens from its slumber as someone approaches, a microphone that mutes itself in the absence of a speaker, or a fan that constantly adjusts its direction to provide the utmost comfort to the nearest individual. That's the magic of the Person Sensor. However, it isn't just restricted to large systems and can now be used with ESPHome to create ingenious presence detectors.

Advanced computer vision without coding

At its core, this nifty piece of hardware combines a camera module, preloaded with face-detection algorithms, and a microcontroller on a single board. The result? A compact, energy-efficient (~150 milliwatts) and cost-effective module that communicates effortlessly over a straightforward I²C interface.

The real magic, however, lies in the Person Sensor's ability to not only detect nearby faces but also to provide information on their number, location relative to the device, and even perform facial recognition. Imagine a world where your devices spring to life as you approach, track your every move, silence a microphone in an empty room, or even recognize different users to offer personalized experiences. The Person Sensor is here to make that vision a reality, offering a user-friendly solution for building smarter, more intuitive devices.

The Person Sensor (SEN21231) by Useful Sensors

How to set up the Person Sensor (SEN21231) from Useful Sensors in ESPHome

To set up the Person Sensor (SEN21231) on your node, you'll need to incorporate the I²C bus component. Thankfully, with ESPHome by your side, this task is as simple as a walk in the park. A mere 5 lines of YAML will do the trick, and you can find these golden lines right here.

Once you've got the I²C bus component sorted, it's time to give the Person Sensor (SEN21231) its due attention. Just like a culinary maestro adding the perfect seasoning, you'll need to sprinkle a few more lines of YAML to set up the sensor.

With your node now configured and flashed, ESPHome will work its magic, informing Home Assistant about the number of people facing the sensor and the relative position of their faces. It's like having an extra pair of eyes that never blink!

How the Person Sensor (SEN21231) from Useful Sensors preserves privacy

For users of ESPHome and Home Assistant, the issue of privacy has always been of utmost importance. Understandably, not everyone is comfortable with an image sensor monitoring their presence. To address this concern, Useful Sensors has gone the extra mile to ensure their image sensor module remains a fortress of security. By concentrating on shielding the module from unauthorized access to raw image data, they guarantee that only metadata gleaned from each frame can be obtained. Moreover, their streamlined interface not only reduces the likelihood of malicious interference, but also facilitates third-party audits of their privacy commitments.

Naturally, placing privacy at the forefront does impose certain constraints on developers. Although direct access to image data is justifiably restricted, other limitations encompass the inability to flash the firmware or update the model, as these actions could potentially modify the sensor's behaviour without oversight. Despite the presence of a microcontroller on the board, Useful Sensors' aspiration is that the pre-programmed behaviour offers sufficient value to counterbalance any inconveniences that may stem from their user protection approach.

A portrait photo oif Liam Alexander Colman, the author, creator, and owner of Home Assistant Guide wearing a suit.

About Liam Alexander Colman

is an experienced Home Assistant user who has been utilizing the platform for a variety of projects over an extended period. His journey began with a Raspberry Pi, which quickly grew to three Raspberry Pis and eventually a full-fledged server. Liam's current operating system of choice is Unraid, with Home Assistant comfortably running in a Docker container.
With a deep understanding of the intricacies of Home Assistant, Liam has an impressive setup, consisting of various Zigbee devices, and seamless integrations with existing products such as his Android TV box. For those interested in learning more about Liam's experience with Home Assistant, he shares his insights on how he first started using the platform and his subsequent journey.

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