Choosing the right sensor is a critical first step on the path to great people-measurement. We work with a wide variety of sensors and manufacturers across Camera, LiDAR and electronic technologies. None are perfect, all can be useful in the right situation.
Camera and LiDAR provide the most detailed people-measurement and are typically the back-bone of any full-journey measurement implementation. LiDAR excels in big coverage areas and wherever environmental flexibility is a prerequisite. Camera excels at smaller area measurement and wherever line-crossing/counting is all that’s required. Electronics delivers inexpensive, large area tracking and, in some cases, the ability to track specific people/assets.
Extraordinarily powerful and accurate people-measurement in real-time. Zero PII risk. Real-time. Large coverage areas and great flexibility (indoor, outdoor, any ceiling, multiple mount angles).
Tag-based electronic tracking delivers continuous monitoring, asset or person-specific tracking, and wide-area coverage all at a very low cost.
Highly accurate people-counting and full-journey tracking across most indoor spaces. Excellent for zone measurement, queue analytics, door-counting, and other dedicated measurement tasks.
No one technology is right. Not only do we help you pick the right sensor for your requirements, the “right” sensor might be a mix and our DM1 platform lets you seamlessly mix and match sensors in a single environment.
The three most important factors to consider when choosing a sensor technology are its core people-tracking capabilities, the environments it works in, and the total cost of ownership.
People-tracking capabilities include population capture (% of people tracked), positional accuracy and capture rate (how often it collects a person location).
Environmental factors include lighting requirements, ceiling height requirements, mounting position (Top-down, side, both), and outdoor capability.
For TCO, the key factors sensor cost, coverage, installation cost and failure rate.
Camera and LiDAR both deliver exceptional people-tracking. They will track nearly everyone in a typical space, with almost perfect positioning and will generate at least 2 frames per second – meaning you measure every step in a customer journey.
Camera requires stable indoor lighting and top-mounted ceiling heights between 9-15 feet. LiDAR can be ceiling mounted or wall-mounted, indoor or outdoor. LiDAR can also be hidden behind specialized glass to be invisible to the environment.
LiDAR sensors cost 5-10x camera sensors. However, they provide superior coverage – often in about the same 5-10x range. Depending on your environment and space profile, that means that either camera or LiDAR may be cheaper for you.
LiDAR has quickly become a favorite technology for people-measurement. It’s accuracy, flexibility and privacy are all exemplary. It also provides a wider range of object type detection and more object information than other sensor technologies. Our LiDAR partners, Quanergy and Ouster, deliver state-of-the-art sensors and robust people-measurement and object detection capabilities.
LiDAR sensors can sometimes provide extraordinary coverage. They work best in large, unblocked open spaces. And if that’s your location, you can often cover very large areas with only a couple of sensors. That makes for lower hardware costs and much easier implementations.
LiDAR sensors work indoors or out. They can be ceiling or wall mounted and are not sensitive to mounting heights. They are not affected by lighting conditions and are often used to provide security and perimeter monitoring in addition to analytics.
LiDAR doesn’t capture ANY PII. Like radar, LiDAR generates a point cloud image. There is no video. No possibility of PII capture.
LiDAR software comes out of the automotive world and has been tuned for multiple-object identification. That makes it perfect for measurement applications that involve cars (like drive-thru) or other vehicles.
Coverage is complex, especially when it comes to LiDAR. For camera, coverage is mostly a function of the sensor and ceiling height. With LiDAR, the coverage area is much larger, but line-of-sight blockage and the unique properties of LiDAR make for blind spots and gaps that require overlapping fields of view.
LiDAR coverage is NEVER what the manufacturer says. Reliable people detection and classification can usually be done at about half the range claimed. However, even this will vary wildly depending on line-of-sight blockage and crowds. The LiDAR needs to put enough beams on an object to recognize and track it. In addition, LiDAR sensors typically have a significant blind spot underneath the sensor and some wave-pattern gaps in coverage. From a practical standpoint, this means that the minimum LIDAR implementation is 2 sensors even in spaces where a single LiDAR would otherwise suffice.
Camera coverage is much simpler. In general, a top-down camera will give you the coverage claimed by the manufacturer based on ceiling height. Don’t underestimate the impact of ceiling height. The difference of a few feet in ceiling height can dramatically reduce the coverage area of a camera. When doing full journey, also keep in mind that cameras must have an overlapping area to track people across their field of view. This will reduce the actual measured area of each camera.
Both provide excellent measurement, so the choice usually comes down to environment, privacy and, most of all, cost. If LiDAR is the only workable solution then your decision is easy. If LiDARs lack of video is a PII essential, ditto. But if neither of those things are true, it’s very much a matter of picking the best TCO alternative for you space. In smaller spaces, that’s almost always camera. In medium to larger spaces, the right answer will take careful evaluation of your site.
The ability to integrate multiple sensor technologies is critical for many applications and spaces. Our DM1 platform does this seamlessly, letting you cover different parts of a space with different technologies or overlay electronic measurement of a space on top of LiDAR or camera.
If your locations have a mix of small, enclosed spaces and larger open areas, how do you pick the right technology? Office-spaces, for example, have conference rooms that are typically a few hundred square feet. That’s much too small for efficient use of LiDAR. But they may have public areas and bull-pens that are ideal for LiDAR. By integrating camera and LiDAR seamlessly and tracking individuals across both sensor types, we provide the most cost-efficient and measurement capable solution possible.
If you need to track specific assets or employees, electronic tracking (BLE or UWB) might be your best option. We can integrate that information right on top of the same location. Some of our sensor partners will even integrate the electronic detection on the sensor so that no extra setup is required.