People counting

How people counter sensors work: A tech comparison

Corporate offices, commercial real estate, and industrial companies are increasingly turning towards people counters as a cost-effective solution to meeting their changing business objectives.

Gathering footfall data over time offers valuable insights into staff and visitor behavior, while real-time monitoring may be necessary for security measures.
People Counters

With numerous key performance indicators (KPIs) under scrutiny in various business settings, it is natural that several distinct technologies have arisen to satisfy different needs. People counter sensors are now available in a range of configurations and formats based on several dissimilar sensor technologies.

In this article, we will be exploring how sensors for counting people work in more detail, with a focus on comparing the technologies of underlying sensor types.

Guide to people counting technologyGuide to people counting technology
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1. Optical People Counters: CCTV & Stereo Vision

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is one of the most common people counter technologies in use today, though it is primarily employed for security purposes rather than data acquisition. Retailers make pervasive use of CCTV systems to improve business security by deterring criminals and providing visual evidence in the event of criminal activity. 

Prior to the onset of intelligent video analytics and on-board computer vision, people counting with CCTV was a time-consuming manual process. Now, visual optics and simulated stereo vision can be supplemented with machine-learning for automated facial recognition and object detection. This can cost significantly more than standard video surveillance products, like CCTV.

The main drawback of these people counting systems is the lack of anonymity, since they are aimed at security purposes, the growing concern of personal privacy is leading to a backlash against this technology, also, it is prone to counting errors since their counting accuracy is limited by ambient environment factors such as low-light and shadows.

2. WiFi People Counters: Signal Tracking

Tracking WiFi probe requests is an advanced, if inaccurate, method of counting people. Estimates suggest that there are as many as 6.92 billion smartphone users worldwide, each device having a unique Media Access Control (MAC) address. With WiFi-enabled, devices broadcast their MAC address in what is known as a probe request. Internet routers can acquire these signals and triangulate the position of the device based on signal strength. Multiple routers offer a more detailed insight into device position by comparing relative signal strengths.

There are many problems with WiFi people counters. First, they operate on the assumption that all people are carrying a smart device with WiFi-enabled. Second, positional accuracy is poor compared to most other people counting technologies. Third, it is controversial as the system tracks user devices without asking for consent.

How Does People Counting Work
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3. Infrared People Counters: Time-of-Flight Sensors

Based on innovative Time-of-Flight (ToF) technology, infrared emitters offer an unprecedented combination of precise and private people counting performance. Using 3D IR depth sensors for counting people with an expanded Field-of-View, ToF people counters detect objects as a function of interrupted signal beams. This is used to monitor people entering/leaving a specific area in real-time with exceptional accuracy and complete anonymity.

Conventional infrared, or thermal, sensors have been criticized for poor accuracy in terms of false object detection and lack of clarity between multiple objects within a single Field-of-View. At Terabee, we have resolved these issues with the Terabee People Counting L-XL, an innovative counting solution which features an innovative and proprietary people counting algorithm, offering 98% accuracy. This is achieved with advanced filtering techniques to remove static people and objects that might otherwise reduce the counting accuracy.

An accurate, anonymous solution

Time-of-Flight technology is an effective means of counting people without intruding on their privacy or private data. Time-of-Flight sensors from Terabee don’t contain a camera or camera technology, so they do not recognize faces or track individuals’ movements.

With ToF technology, individuals can move freely through monitored areas without fear of being tracked or monitored. And because only anonymous data is ever collected, the privacy of individuals is always protected. You can say that Time-of-Flight people counters from Terabee respect data privacy and anonymity by their very design.

If you would like more information on different people counting technologies, simply contact a member of the Terabee team using the link below.

Related products

Terabee People Flow Counting L-XL

GDPR compliant people counting device. Optimize value and reduce costs from your retail operation, smart building or office space
Using advanced Time-of-Flight technology, Terabee People Flow Counting L-XL is GDPR compliant and provides accurate people counting data (98% accuracy or more) by monitoring the number of people entering and exiting doorways or corridors.

Easy to configure and install on high ceilings, the Terabee People Flow Counting L-XL fits any kind of wide indoor entrance, up to 15 meters in a multi-device setup. Our people counting algorithm is capable of filtering out static objects and counting multiple people passing in both directions below the device as they enter or leave a space.

The solution consists of an IoT people counting device and an optional IoT platform. Two product variations allow transmission of the data via Power over Ethernet or LoRaWAN. Interested? Contact us.

Terabee People Flow Counting M 2.0

Get real-time people counting data for single doorways and narrow corridors
Real-time data is the backbone of our modern, fast-paced world especially when it comes to monitoring space usage, occupancy, energy efficiency, security, building performance or tailored services. The Terabee People Flow Counting M 2.0 device is GDPR compliant by design, with a real-time data capability, providing seamless, accurate, and highly effective footfall measurement, at a competitive price.

Using Time-of-Flight technology, the People Flow Counting M 2.0 solution guarantees anonymity in its operations, prioritizing data privacy protection while offering robust, reliable occupancy monitoring.

People Flow Counting M 2.0 is the perfect addition to your Building Management System. The “smaller sibling” of People Flow Counting L-XL, People Flow Counting M 2.0 is designed for smaller doorways and narrow corridors. It comes in both Power over Ethernet (PoE) and LoRa models to best suit your needs.
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