And more specific……
Fixed to the ceiling above the area to be measured, they do not use visual lightand can work in total darkness. These sensors are unobtrusive and very accurate. Thermal imaging technology notes temperature changes of individuals compared to the environment, even where traffic volume is high.
Multiple cameras can be linked to create wider zones, whilst also being adaptable to complex entrances, offering continuous retail traffic counting in complicated environments.
Stereo people counters are usually fixed to the ceiling directly above the area to be measured, although the cameras can be tilted to a limited degree.
The devices collect entries and exits in real time, collating accurate insight into customer volumes that is adaptable to a wide range of environments. Stereo data is reliable using the same approach as our own eyes to understand depth in a field of view. This allows the device to exclude sunlight shadows and items by height, for example children or objects such as pushchairs.
An advanced range of stereo tech allows not just entry and exit counting, but path tracking through the entirety of a customer journey. Only some manufacturers can provide extensive linking of cameras, all differ in easy of setup and in lightsensitivity
Typically half the size of a stereo device driven by the use of a single lens and fixed above the measuring area to the ceiling. As it’s not stereo it does not have a depth of view which means children cannot be removed, while the lack of triangulation affects all mono device accuracy.
The range of accuracy at times for these devices can be as low as 50% and, despite laboratory claims, we have not seen accuracy much above 90%. The effort to achieve that higher accuracies is excessive. Prerequisites exist for such devices; traffic is relatively low; lighting is very consistent. However: the attraction of cheap to install devices comes with hidden costs. The experience in setting up mono cameras is that credibility of the data becomes an ongoing factor which drives a lot of management time for all parties.
4. Time of Flight
Similar in size to the new range of thermal devices and fixed to the ceiling above the area to be measured, a Time of Flight sensor sends a signal out to the objects beneath it and records the reflection of infrared which bounces back to the sensor. This allows a greater depth of vision and movement to be recorded over other devices including stereo and thermal. This development has the potential to even offer measurement at a shelf level.
Wi-Fi operates from Wireless Access Points (WAPs) and are deployed in the vicinity of the area to be measured, often in the ceiling. The range and accuracy of such systems are varied and require a degree of set up and calibration. Claims of accuracy of sub-five metres are difficult to establish in reality and with the sample set of clients having Wi-Fi switched on this measure is only an indicator and not a true count.
Where this becomes interesting is in the measurement of dwell and patronage, but we advice this only as a secondary measure of traffic and not as a replacement for previously mentioned countingmethodes.
6. Infrared (IR)
Infrared people counters can work well but they vary widely in effectiveness, largely due to the quality of implementation and the ongoing management which, to remain accurate, is much higher than new generations such as thermal, stereo or Time of Flight, most of which now add remote support capabilities.
IR technology can be low cost, however with all the quality issues the questions remain over whether the data can provide any sensible direction — unless there is comprehensive monitoring and support. While not the most advanced option, IR counters have positive use in a number of limited scenarios.
Utilizing ceiling mounted Closed Circuit technology, often integrated as part of the in-store security infrastructure. This often appears to be a low cost item due to it being purely an add on software feature to the already installed security system. However, the experience of clients going down this route has been that it’s not as simple as it seems and in effect it suffers in the same way that a mono approach does with lighting variations. In fact, because the cameras have another principle focus i.e. security, the set up always runs the risk of being compromised and as such so does the accuracy.
Usually the set up requires a lot of tweaking for each and every site and between the sites the accuracy we have seen is not consistent. This in our experience has been one of those technology areas that periodically gets looked at for short term savings, only to then find it’s not all it seems and clients then return for a more focused approach with the consistent results required to run their business.
We have stated our opinion on each of the different technologies available. This is derived from spending 25+ years of working with, and testing, most of the available technologies in the market. Others may have their own opinion but for us we wanted to have devices that are accurate, cost effective, easy to set up, remain stable through the life time and allow us to focus on outcomes for our clients rather than spend time discussing individual store/device accuracy which serves little if no business value.
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