Business by the Numbers: People-Counting Technologies


NumbersWhen you go to a trade exhibit or conference, you may notice staff at the gate with a contraption in their hand clicking away as you go by. This is a people counter, which is the most basic people counting system. It is a simple gadget that adds up the number of clicks.

There are many reasons for a people counting system.The most simple is to make a head count of how many people have gone into an area. However, there is more value to people counting than counting people, especially in retail. The data gathered by people counting systems is useful in designing floor layouts, merchandising, promotions, and signs to improve sales. As it is so important, of people counting system technologies have become more sophisticated.

Crossing the Line

The first people counting system technology was the infrared. The method is simple. An infrared light beam goes from one side of an opening to the other side. Each time the beam is broken, it means one person has passed through. The number and time that people crosses the beam registers in the system. With this data, the analyst can identify peak hours, when more people go through.

Body Heat

Infrared also plays a part in this people counting system. However, instead of a beam at the entrance, infrared cameras pick up body heat of people in strategic areas. The purpose of the camera is not so much to count the number of people but to identify “hot spots”. These are areas where the most number of people go. The system can also note how long each person stays.

Bag and Tag

The latest technology uses people’s mobile phones to track them. Since most people do have mobile phones, this makes perfect sense. The system hones in on the radio frequency and captures data including what scanned and bought products, and the movement patterns of customers. This has unnerved some shoppers who were feeling “stalked”, but they got used to it over time.

These are just some of the technologies that a people counting system may be using. Large retailers are investing heavily in these technologies because they realize how much benefit it can give them. Smaller retailers can benefit as well.

But it isn’t just retailers. We have seen dental offices use this technology so they can compare the actual number of people that come in their doors vs the number of patients that they are seeing. Powerful technology!

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