This is an update of the original blog post from 2015. If you’re in the people tracking field and would like to present a demo, please contact Ronny Max.
People Tracking technologies quantify activities in the physical store. They measure where people are and how long they stay in a specific location.
The tracking solutions measure demand, service, and customer engagement in location and time-based metrics. They optimize demand forecasts, location marketing, scheduling, queues, and sales operations. And they empower the retailers to be more productive and profitable.
Why Care About Tracking People
Tracking versus People Counting
Sensor vs. Device-Based Solutions
3D Stereo Video Analytics
Monocular Video Analytics
Time of Flight
Kinect is also a sensor that detects people in motion. The video camera, depth detector, and multi-array microphone generate a three-dimensional image of objects within the field of view. The camera also detects body-type and facial features. Kinect can distinguish objects’ depth within 1 centimeter and their height and width within 3 mm.
Structured Light projects a known pattern on a scene. The array of lights strike the surface allowing the tracker to calculate the depth and the surface of the object. People Tracking comes from 3D Scanners.
Apple, Amazon, and Orbbec are among the companies to deploy Structured Light.
Raspberry Pi Tracking
Open Source Raspberry Pi can be adapted as a motion tracker. This is a low cost solution, but one challenged with support and accuracy.
WiFi Location Analytics
Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons
Beacons are transmitters of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radio waves signals. BLE functions in the range between NFC and GPS. The devices work indoors, which makes it ideal for communicating with customers.
Beacons allow the customer’s application to find if it is close (in proximity) to a specific location such as display or aisle. Beacons are the favorite tech for Location Marketing.
Beacons face three challenges: First, the layers of security require a series of opt-in. Second, due to privacy concerns many customers shy the retailer’s application. And third, WiFi/GPS technologies are improving fast to work indoors.
GPS Location Analytics
3D Spatial Learning (Augmented Reality)
Augmented Reality will probably be the technology of Retail Future. Remember Pokemon Go. Then came Amazon Go. But first was Google’s Project Tango. You can see the future in Gap’s foray into AR Dressing Rooms.
Augmented Reality uses computer vision to enable mobile devices to detect their position relative to the world around them without using GPS, WiFi or other external signal. In essence, vision technology emulates our ability to manipulate three-dimensional objects.