People Counting Technologies for Offices

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For people counting and optimizing the use of space in offices, time-of-flight (ToF) technology is ideal. In order to prove this, a people counting system was developed and installed in the Terabee offices. The details of the program are recorded below:

Underusing space is a huge waste of money. It is estimated that businesses could reduce their needs by around 30% by optimizing their use of space, which translates to a significant reduction in costs.1

Understanding how your space is currently being used, and assessing which areas can be used more efficiently without creating a workplace disturbance, are key elements of optimizing your space. The use of  accurate and reliable people counting technology is, therefore, vital in optimizing the use of business space.2-5

There are a wide range of people counting systems which are currently available. These include ultrasonic sensors, Wi-Fi tracking, infrared sensors, CCTV, stereovision, and thermal cameras. It must be understood that each method has its limitations, which, due to the nature of the equipment, typically concerns accuracy and privacy protection of people moving around a space.2-5

The latest technologies to ripple through the people counting industry are Time-of-Flight (ToF) cameras. Accurate people counting is provided by ToF, in a simple, compact, cost-effective, and easy to use package. This is all achieved at the same time as protecting the privacy of the people it is counting.6,7

Terabee provides ToF sensing solutions which are perfect for a range of applications, including people counting. The people counting algorithm developed by Terabee continuously and reliably generates 98% people counting accuracy, or higher!7,8

How Does Terabee ToF Technology Work?

The ToF technology works by using pulsed light to illuminate a space, the former of which is invisible to the human eye. This light is reflected to a sensor in the camera by objects or people. The distance to all the objects in a scene can be calculated and depth and intensity information captured simultaneously by measuring the time taken for the light to travel from the camera to the object and back again.

High frame rates are offered by this technology and it requires no additional illumination. This makes it perfect for indoor applications as it works in low-light conditions as well as in complete darkness. Currently, within a business premises, ToF technology remains one of the most accurate ways to monitor people.6,7

Using ToF People Counting Solutions in Real-Life Scenarios

Terabee tested their 3D-cam 80x60 in one of their first people counting projects. The project was undertaken at the main entrance of a local building which houses Terabee’s partner, InnoGex. This measuring helped them to assess and measure the success of their conferences and events. This technology proved its utility and power, and as a result, InnoGex are currently using the Terabee system to measure event attendance and optimize their staffing levels accordingly.8

Terabee is now enhancing their solutions further – and where better to test it than in their own offices?

Terabee’s goal with people counting was to help them utilize their space more efficiently. In order to do this, they needed to understand how their staff uses their premises and whether they were the right size for their needs, including the number of meeting rooms and call rooms. In order to meet all these demands, they  needed a solution that could provide detailed data about how they use their office buildings and rooms.

Installing Terabee’s ToF Hardware in Their Own Offices

Terabee installed their Terabee 3Dcam 80x60 cameras at the top of each entry on their premises. In total, they installed 17 devices at doorways across their eight main office spaces in four buildings.9

The first step was that Terabee needed to bring connectivity and power to all the devices they wanted to install. In places where having an Ethernet cable was not practical, the priority was to guarantee a stable enough Wi-Fi signal in order to push data to their analytics platform each minute.

From ToF Data to Actionable, Visualized Data

Terabee installed single-board computers with their cameras, which applied their custom algorithm to ToF data. This allowed them to detect and count people both entering and leaving spaces. The system allows for the detection of multiple people moving in and out of a space simultaneously, as well as analyzing ‘dense’ people traffic at peak periods or in congested doorways.

To facilitate this, they have a feature of background suppression which rejects stationary objects and bystanders in the field of view of the camera, in order to further improve count accuracy. 10

Every minute, data from these devices is pushed to an online dashboard via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. This online dashboard allows users to visualize people count data, to make it easier to understand. In Terabee’s case, this information can be used to see how office space is being used over time, and additionally allows key decision-makers at Terabee to access people counting data anytime, anywhere.

One thing Terabee rapidly found was that their open-plan meeting area was poorly utilized, but small meeting rooms were heavily used. This meant that they converted the open-plan space into two new meeting rooms, to optimize the space to their needs. They also learned about their peak work hours, and learned which (and when) buildings and facilities are most used. This data will help them to make decisions about their future real-estate and office needs.

What’s Next?

Despite the current success of Terabee’s internal people counting solutions, they have much more to do! Their main goal is to connect their people counting systems to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, to reduce energy consumption and minimize  carbon footprint. They are also working hard to make the installation and set-up process even faster.

Do You Want to Use ToF to Optimize Your Business?

The 3D ToF technology pioneered by Terabee is an affordable, lightweight, and compact technology which is able to function in complete darkness. Terabee has created highly accurate people counting solutions, which by default are privacy compliant.

References and Further Reading

  1. ‘Global businesses could collectively save up to $1.5tn through efficient use of office space, finds Philips’
    https://www.worldgbc.org/news-media/global-businesses-could-collectively-save-15tn-through-efficient-use-office-space-finds
  2. ‘A Survey of Human-Sensing: Methods for Detecting Presence, Count, Location, Track, and Identity.’ — T. Teixeira, G. Dublon, A. Savvides. ENALAB Technical Report, 2010.
  3. ‘IoT-based Occupancy Monitoring Techniques for Energy-Efficient Smart Buildings’ — K. Akkaya, I. Guvenc, R. Aygun, N. Pala, A. Kadri, IEEE, 2015.
  4. ‘Building occupancy estimation and detection: A review’ — Z. Chen, C. Jiang, L. Xie, Energy and Buildings, 2018.
  5. ‘A Field Guide to Office Technology’ — E. Sobey, Chicago Review Press, 2007.
  6. ‘Time-of-Flight Cameras: Principles, Methods and Applications’ — M. Hansard, S. Lee, O. Choi, R.P. Horaud, Springer, 2013.
  7. ‘Time of Flight Principle’
     https://www.terabee.com/time-of-flight-principle/
  8. ‘Build People Counting Applications with Terabee 3DCcam 80×60’
    https://www.terabee.com/build-people-counting-applications-with-terabee-3dcam-80x60/
  9. ‘Terabee 3Dcam 80x60 - the compact, robust and affordable 3D Time-of-Flight camera’
    https://www.terabee.com/shop/3d-tof-cameras/terabee-3dcam/

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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