Using Time-of-Flight Cameras for Indoor People Counting

Terabee tested their depth camera for indoor people counting applications in the early stages of Terabee 3Dcam 80x60 product development. They partnered with InnoGex to install a device in their main office building's entrance as a proof of concept.

The 3D camera was installed on the ceiling where its wide field of view of 57° x 74° permitted the whole entrance to be monitored with just one device. The device was connected to a UP Board computer and a WiFi antenna was added in order to transmit the data back.

Available to all customers, an OpenNI SDK was developed, and an algorithm was created in order to recognize people from a top-down view and assign them a tracking ID. A line was drawn in the software to represent the door's threshold. This allows you to count each identified person as either going in or out of the building when they cross that line. Dashboard monitoring ins and outs were also built over time, in order to make the data actionable.

Thanks to their active time-of-flight technology, the system works well night and day. The 80 x 60 pixel depth resolution is perfect for detecting the movement of people but is still limited enough that the specific identity of a person cannot be detected, meaning that their privacy is never breached. This is great in times of GDPR compliance and is one of the technologies major benefits over RGB camera systems.

The 3D camera can count a number of people going in and out at the same time. For improved tracking performance, their dynamic background feature rejects non-moving objects or people in the camera's field of view. InnoGex is extremely pleased with their installation and is actively employing people counting data to measure the success of their events and to optimize their staffing accordingly.

Why Use Time-of-flight 3D Cameras to Count People?

People counting solutions provide the opportunity to optimize energy consumption and office space. Data on the number of people in a building can help to refine ventilation, heat, and air conditioning systems, in addition to managing lighting. The flow and of people in an office could also be analyzed by installing a device on every door, and detect if occupancy limits are breached or there are unused rooms.

Businesses that have a physical presence like insurance, car dealerships, retail, banking, and malls can benefit from accurate people counting to measure footfall and enhance the layout of their stores. If multiple devices are installed to cover a whole room, then their 3D cameras can also be utilized to measure the amount of time spent in different areas such as desks, aisles, waiting lines or point of sale assets.

Typically, these applications are fulfilled by adding software on top of CCTV systems, infrared beams, Bluetooth tracking, clickers (i.e., people standing near doors with manual counting devices), WiFi tracking, and other less reliable systems. Every system has its advantages and disadvantages. You can not always film with an RBG camera everywhere for example, and not everyone has a smartphone with activated Bluetooth or WiFi. Furthermore, single beams have difficulty measuring two or more people walking at the same time.

By utilizing 3D Time-of-Flight technology, you can get more accurate and reliable counting data, particularly if you have wide areas to cover, large doors, or need to operate in low light, or even dark, environments. Additionally, the technology is always eye-safe.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Terabee.

For more information on this source, please visit Terabee.

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