Smart building

The ultimate guide to occupancy sensors

With the growth of smart buildings and related technologies, buildings occupancy detectors are becoming more commonplace. But how do you choose the sensor that best suits your needs? Is it non-invasive and privacy respecting?

This article will explore building occupancy sensors and how they work.
occupancy sensors ultimate guide

What are occupancy sensors?

Occupancy sensors are electronic devices capable of counting the number of people occupying a given space. From airports to supermarkets, many different types of businesses rely on occupancy sensors for valuable insight into how their premises are used, and how this use changes over time.

With more and more businesses now realizing the advantages of occupancy sensors, the market is now flooded with competing technologies. Some systems scan entire rooms to measure occupancy directly: these include the likes of RFID and WiFi/beacon occupancy sensors. Most systems instead use sensors positioned in doorways to count the number of people entering and exiting a space. These doorway sensors range from simple low-cost systems like break-beam sensors, right up to highly accurate thermal sensor or camera-based systems that require specialist calibration.

Occupancy sensors ultimate guide

How do Time-of-Flight occupancy sensors work?

Time-of-Flight (ToF) occupancy sensors belong to the latter group of entrance/exit monitors – they use a completely different approach to solving the challenge of people counting.

Time-of-Flight occupancy sensors work by emitting invisible pulses of infrared light, then measuring how those signals reflect off the environment. Using precise timing technology, these occupancy sensors can measure the time taken for infrared pulses to reflect back to the sensor (the time of flight), and use this information to calculate the distance that the light has traveled.

In this way, Time-of-Flight occupancy sensors can gather depth information about their surroundings, and they use this to build up a 3D picture of the world in much the same way that a bat uses echolocation to sense its environment.

Applications and benefits of occupancy sensors

Virtually all kinds of businesses can benefit from occupancy sensors.

For example, in offices, historical occupancy data can be used to identify under-utilized or overcrowded areas. This, in turn, enables informed decision-making based on real data, regarding the allocation of different spaces. In these applications, occupancy sensors help business owners maximize the value of their available space, improve employee well-being and even reveal opportunities to downsize to smaller premises.

In public spaces such as shop floors and congress centers, occupancy sensors provide valuable insight into visitor behavior. Harnessing this information can transform businesses, enabling staff schedules and store layout optimization in response to actual foot traffic data. In addition, occupancy sensors ensure compliance with maximum capacity regulations.

Occupancy sensors are also seeing increasing deployment in “Smart Building” applications. By networking occupancy sensors with building subsystems – such as lighting and HVAC – Smart Buildings can automate utilities in response to room occupancy; resulting in significant reductions in energy use and expenditure.

What are the best occupancy sensors?

Most occupancy sensors require some level of compromise between cost, ease of use, and accuracy. However, by harnessing the power of ToF technology, Terabee occupancy sensors deliver reliable and straightforward people counting data at a fraction of the price of other occupancy sensor systems.

Privacy protection by design
Terabee occupancy sensors or Time-of-Flight-based people counters use infrared sensor arrays to gather 3D depth information about their surroundings. This information is then processed by onboard algorithms, which accurately identify people and track their paths while filtering out static objects—the result: over 98% accuracy even in crowded, bi-directional traffic.

Crucially, Terabee’s Time-of-Flight occupancy sensors are intrinsically anonymous. Our infrared sensors are engineered with limited spatial resolution: enough to ensure the accurate identification of people, without capturing any identifying personal information. This means that – unlike camera-based systems – our occupancy sensors with full GDPR compliance by design.

Occupancy Sensors Terabee

On top of all this, Terabee ToF occupancy sensors are low-cost and can be installed and configured in minutes.

Interested in upgrading your business? Check out our product pages to learn more about Terabee’s unique, cost-effective occupancy sensors, or get in touch with us today with any questions – we’d be happy to hear from you.

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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