Can you detect a crying baby with Zabbix? Of course, you can! By day, I am a monitoring tech lead in a global cyber security company. By night, I monitor my home with Zabbix & Grafana and do some weird experiments with them. Welcome to my blog about the project.

Time really flies. Our little baby girl at home is already about three and a half months old, and that shows in so many ways. If during her first month or two she cried quite a lot and quite easily due gassy stomach and whatnot, she nowadays mostly is a chill mini-human just observing the world.

Which then raised the question for me — how often she cries? Could I monitor that? Oh yes. And oh no. We’ll get to no part later, but let’s start with the good bits.

Hey Siri, help me

As I pretty much always have my iPhone with or near me, and wear my Apple Watch nearly 24×7, I thought I would give their sound recognition abilities a try.

To start, I opened the Settings on my iPhone and went to Accessibility Sound recognitionBaby crying and enabled that.

Next, I opened Shortcuts and created a new Personal automation.

Here’s the advanced CRYENGINE in action.

So, every time my iDevice thinks that our baby is crying, it appends to a text file stored on my iCloud account.

Zabbix Time!

How to get that data to Zabbix?

I have a MacBook Pro and a Zabbix agent running on that, so the next natural step was to make it monitor that particular text file. There would be so many ways to detect if this file has been changed; as I’m appending to the text file, I just made Zabbix keep an eye on the file size.

How does that look like on my graphs? Not so surprisingly, the value changes.

I also set up a simple trigger that screams if the file size has changed since the last check.

The result? Well, here’s some alert history.

Sleep Learn Adapt reporting

I also added our baby as a Service to my Zabbix, just because it was too fun to skip as the terminology involves child services, parent services and such.

And here’s a totally inaccurate and unmeaningful SLA report about her.

The wobbly bits

Just like our baby is still clumsy and has a lot to learn, it seems that Siri is like that too when it comes to detecting emotions. Yes, Siri can detect if our baby is crying, but it also easily gets worried whenever our baby makes loud joyful sounds. It reminds me of the golden times when T-800 practiced smiling. It just doesn’t know or understand human feelings. At least, not yet.

Then the other odd part is that about one day after I enabled the cry detection on my iPhone, it’s not doing it anymore. Did the detection process crash? Probably. I have not restarted my iPhone yet, because I just could not bother to do that yet. But, in theory, we can detect a crying baby, or many more usual sounds like a doorbell, a dog barking just by using Siri and Zabbix.

I have been working at Forcepoint since 2014 and I think my human skills still beat the ones Siri has. — Janne Pikkarainen

This post was originally published on the author’s LinkedIn account.

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