Choosing LiDAR for Crowd Analytics

Choosing LiDAR for Crowd Analytics

LiDAR is a superb choice for people-measurement and crowd analytics. It delivers accurate people-identification, near-perfect positioning, high frame rates, absolute privacy protection (no PII), great environmental flexibility, advanced object detection (so you can track cars not just people), and terrific coverage that makes for easy installations.

What’s not to like!

We work with a variety of LiDAR sensors and can help you pick the right LiDAR and even mix-and-match LiDAR with other sensor technologies to provide the most efficient coverage of your space.

  • Coverage is King

    LiDAR really shines in a large, relatively open (no high obstructions) environments. The bigger you space and the less obstructed it is, the more likely LiDAR is going to be your ideal solution.

  • Privacy is Absolute

    LiDAR is like radar. It just collects a point-cloud. No video. No image. No PII. None. Ever. Even the NSA couldn’t use these devices to figure out who people are.

  • Any Mounting / Any Environment

    Unlike camera, LiDAR can be effectively wall-mounted or ceiling mounted. They don’t require lighting, and can work in almost any indoor or outdoor conditions.

  • Mix & Match

    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.

Comparative Capabilities

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.

  • People Tracking

    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.

  • Environment

    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.

  • Cost

    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.

Understanding Coverage

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.

The big advantage to LiDAR is that while individual sensors are expensive, the coverage area ALWAYS beats camera – sometimes by a lot. It’s a lot easier (as per the image) to install 5 LiDAR sensors than 25 cameras!

  • LiDAR Coverage

    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

    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.

  • Choosing between LiDAR and 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 but may well be LiDAR.

Other Considerations

LiDAR has quickly become a favorite technology for people-measurement. It’s accuracy, flexibility and privacy are all exemplary. It provides a wider range of object type detection and more object information than other sensor technologies. Our LiDAR partners deliver state-of-the-art sensors and robust people-measurement and object detection capabilities.

LiDAR also sines in dual-purposed security and analytic applications as well as scalability. We enhance that scalability by allowing you to deploy multiple LiDAR arrays (each with their own on-premise processor) that are then aggregated by our platform into a single, seamless customer tracking system.

  • Not Just People

    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.

  • Indoor-Outdoor

    We can seamlessly track people across indoor and outdoor environments. That means a gas station can track from pump to store to snack-aisle to Cashwrap. Any time you need seamless tracking from outdoor to indoor, LiDAR will be part of the solution.

  • Security & Perimeter Monitoring

    Because LiDAR functions in any light environment, you can dual purpose LiDAR sensors to provide crowd-analytics and perimeter monitoring. It’s a huge ROI win to dual-purpose the sensor function.

  • Scalable

    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.

The Importance of Integration

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.

  • Mix and Match Sensors

    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.

  • Overlay Electronics

    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.

Find Out More

Learn more about our advanced SaaS people-measurement platform and its unique capabilities in both real-time and analytic measurement.

Full Journey Tracking

Our DM1 platform is the most robust people-measurement system in the world. LiDAR is a perfect sensor for the full-journey tracking we specialize in.

Queue Management

For large queue areas (Airports, Transit Stations, Destination Retail, Arenas, and high-volume public spaces), LiDAR and our real-time queue management are match made in heaven.

Learn how people-measurement can solve fundamental business problems in retail, airports, transit, public spaces, museums, arenas and offices.


Optimize labor, improve path-to-purchase, remove queue friction, test&measure displays and dynamically allocate Associates.

Airports & Transit Centers

Optimize every queue. Integrate data sources. Track full journeys. Deep-dive into retail areas to optimize conversion.


Measure every part of the experience. Queue. Wait Times. Crowding. Key areas. Retail.


Measure occupancy. Compare to reservations. Integrate real-time usage data. Measure any kind of public space and its usage.

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