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People Tracking Technologies of Tomorrow

Ivan Muts
May 30, 2022
10 mins to read

Table of Contents

    The new reality of tracking technology

    With the proliferation of wirelessly connected technologies, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, businesses have been acquiring new opportunities to optimize their demand forecasts, enhance their marketing efforts, and improve their sales operations. In this article, we are going to talk about human tracking technologies and how businesses across industries can benefit from them. In a nutshell, tracking solutions allow business owners to measure demand, improve service quality, gain in-depth insights on customer engagement, and increase their conversions and profits. 

    So why do businesses need people tracking technologies? The answer is plain: to get actionable insights and seamless analytics. To understand better what is the purpose of these technologies and how to apply them in your business strategy, we suggest considering several examples. 

    For retail sectors, people tracking solutions may be implemented via in-store tracking where, for instance, custom IoT solutions or video analytics software help track customers and transform raw data into comprehensive data to enhance marketing strategies and customers’ experiences. Or if you are looking for ways to improve space utilization in your office and optimize utility expenditures, for example, people tracking systems powered by IoT software can be your win-win solution. 

    There are a range of technologies available, the selection of which depends on specific characteristics and business requirements and possibilities. If one technology can be cost-effective and simple to deploy, it may lack accuracy and may have limited capabilities. Therefore, we outline the main technologies for your consideration that are used across industries to count and track people. They help extract valuable data to make solid business decisions, improve customer satisfaction, and optimize business processes.

    Technologies of people tracking: use cases

    People Tracking Technologies, Euristiq

    AI deep learning vision

    The real-time detection of humans and their tracking via computer vision technology has been embraced by many industries: smart buildings, smart cities, retail. In comparison with popular visual classification tools, deep learning vision algorithms help identify people accurately. 

    AI computer vision is a set of deep learning algorithms which are capable of recognizing patterns in images. Via AI software, these images are translated into other types of data. Being an emerging technology, AI vision is widely applied in in-store analytics to track customers. Data obtained through images is analyzed by machine learning algorithms to extract smart insights. 

    The use cases of AI vision applications:

    Biometric technologies

    Using a method of biometric identification, facial recognition is a technology that identifies a person through their face. This technology helps capture and analyze face mathematical and dynamic patterns based on facial details. 

    Before applying this type of technology in your business, it is of high importance to comply with government regulations and consumer privacy.

    Biometric technologies of people tracking, Euristiq

    Use cases of facial recognition technology:

    Thermal imaging

    Initially, thermal imaging was a common night vision technology used in the military to detect objects in extremely dark environments. Over the years, new advancements made this technology more available to other applications such as perimeter surveillance, fire fighting, healthcare, medicine, etc. 

    To understand how thermal imaging functions, it is worth noting that heat is emitted from objects, and it is made up of infrared radiation that is not visible to people. With thermal sensors, this radiation is converted into light pictures so that it becomes possible to view the objects in darkness, fog, or smoke. Moreover, these sensors are capable of translating this information to detect extreme temperature differences. With such capabilities, thermal sensors are versatile and are used across many applications. Thermal imaging is particularly used to identify suspicious persons, dogs, or any other dangers at night.

    3D stereo video analytics

    Including a high-resolution camera and a processor that can capture an object in three-dimensional stereo vision, 3D sensors are focused on tracking objects with high accuracy. With 3D architecture, video analytics are geared at analyzing moving objects in high traffic, during day and night time making the video more profound and data-driven. 

    Therefore, you can track much more complex persons’ behaviors, efficiently manage the queues, and engage customers. With precise in-depth video capability, 3D technology is capable of identifying a person’s direction of the eyes or recognizing gender.

    Xovis, a 3D video analytics provider, implemented a passenger tracking system at Kansai International Airport to optimize the increasing number of international passengers. With this system including over 500 3D vision sensors covering 15,000m2, 98% of passengers can be monitored and tracked. This solution helps deliver real-time data on passenger flow in changing temperature and lighting conditions, efficiently utilize capacity, and prevent the growth of queues and wait times. Reducing wait times from 45m to 15m, the KIX airport significantly increased passenger satisfaction.

    Time of Flight (ToF)

    With its utmost precision capabilities and by maintaining people’s privacy, Time of Flight (TOF) has proven to be an advanced and revolutionary technology in people counting applications. It came into play in 2020 with the burst of COVID-19, when social distancing and efficient occupancy management became the main requirements for businesses. 

    The Time-of-flight principle serves as a framework for measuring the distance between two points (from the sensor’s emitter to the target) and back, based on mathematical and physical characteristics. These calculations are performed by measuring the time difference between the source signal and the object. Sound and light are the most common wave types that are used for carrying the signals. In comparison with simplified sensors, such as ultrasound or infrared sensors, TOF sensors provide more accurate and reliable data with high reading frequency and far greater range.

    Among the main benefits, that time-of-flight technology can bring to businesses are the following:

    While TOF sensors can emit and receive back reflections of their own light (even if there is little or no light at all), they can work improperly when colliding with the sun or shiny surfaces. Nonetheless, this technology offers huge opportunities across industries and its applications are diverse. Initially developed by Microsoft, TOF technology was not so widespread in applications, however, in collaboration with ADI solutions, it is going to be a game-changer providing greater accuracy. 

    People counting systems backed by time-of-flight systems can be applied in smart offices, public spaces, and smart buildings to deliver real-time data and retrieve valuable metrics which can ensure high space efficiency and building management. Terabee is a real-life example of an advanced 3D time-of-flight people counting system that is precious nowadays, particularly for social distancing purposes. Some of the benefits are:

    WiFi location tracking

    WiFi location mostly uses already existing infrastructure and access points (APs), therefore this type of location-based tracking is cost-effective. WiFi is a default solution for indoor positioning systems covering a range of up to 150 meters, however, augmented with GPS technology, it can work in an outdoor environment as well to improve accuracy. 

    How does WiFi location tracking work? 

    With RSSI (received signal strength indicator) and MAC address (media access control), WiFi positioning systems define the coordinates of the person. The principle is based on analyzing the intensity of the received signal strength and defining the location of access points. The number of access points and the timestamp of the signal determine how accurate calculations will be. There can be certain obstacles to defining the localization of a device or a number of devices due to the WiFi activation on the device. The data output will depend on the device’s connection to WiFi. 

    The identification of the person’s location is based on triangulation algorithms which determine the distance between the device and the access point. However, it is an issue to determine the person’s position accurately; therefore, there are other techniques available to accelerate the data output: signal strength, fingerprinting, angle of arrival, and time of flight.

    WiFi tracking software is used to monitor people to: 

    Bluetooth Low Energy beacons

    iBeacons technology is widely used across applications since it allows easy and fast installation of devices, high accuracy within several meters, low power consumption, and cost-efficiency. Beacons are small radio transmitters that send out signals to tablets and smartphones. In the case of asset tracking, the Bluetooth principle is based upon beacon tracking attached to the asset in the building which transmits signals to the hardware. In terms of server-based tracking of people, receiver hardware receives signals from the beacon located in the peoples’ devices. 

    Use case of people tracking, Euristiq

    BLE technology offers multiple applications to create proximity-based customer experiences and improve marketing efforts for different businesses.

    Use cases of the BLE technology for tracking people:

    Infrared beams

    As opposed to the above-mentioned new time-of-flight technology, infrared beam technology does not provide precision and is not recommended by data analysts. However, it is still widely used by different businesses since it is a cost-effective and simple-to-deploy solution. Its principle is based on transmitter and receiver units installed on the entrance getaways that generate signals. Once a person crosses a beam – the signal is interrupted and the counting starts. 

    Along with its simplicity, infrared technology has its drawbacks such as a lack of accuracy:

    LPWAN network technologies

    LPWAN technology is a wireless low-power wide-area network. LoRaWan is a wireless protocol for long-range wide-area networks that need little power and low bandwidth using LoRa. LoRa and LoRaWan refer to the category of non-cellular LPWAN network protocols. Considering the aforementioned features, this technology is a perfect fit for applications that cover smart buildings, smart cities, smart farming, and industrial use cases. 

    LPWAN technology enables businesses to deploy IoT smart solutions in their applications to:

    Here is a good example of how with LoRaWan technology, Canadian company Tektelic solved the problem of office workplace underutilization. The Euristiq dev team developed a smart office application allowing managers to collect data from proximity sensors regarding room occupancy to be further processed by custom smart office software. Dashboard data on bookings synchronized with Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar shows the room occupancy.

    What’s the best tracking technology for your business?

    There is no precise answer since each industry and business has its own goal requirements and specifics. Yes, you can outline the main criteria worth considering before selecting the right tracking technology for your business, however, these are generalized recommendations. Before hiring a tracking technology dev team, prepare some questions like these ones:

    In any case, we offer you to get in touch with us to discuss your project and be equipped with more detailed information oriented to address your specific problem.

    If you are interested in learning more about Euristiq projects, contact us.

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