Ingram Micro is to distribute solutions from the world’s number one provider of people counting and traffic analysis systems, FootfallCam. The company’s people counting solutions uniquely combine hardware and software, with cameras providing visual intelligence that contributes to more effective people management, proving essential in a world living with COVID-19.
Steve Blackmore, Ingram Micro business manager - Networking & IoT, says FootfallCam solutions provide an ideal opportunity for resellers delivering solutions into retail, government, and other environments where queues and other people management problems present themselves. “Social distancing and the need for automated occupancy control is adding to the use cases for people counting solutions,” he points out.
“While there is a traditional market in retail, where operators want to analyse and understand the movements of customers through their premises, COVID is necessitating new, smarter ways of controlling people in and out of buildings, into queues, and even for bathroom visits.”
FootfallCam Director of International Sales Melissa Kao says such systems are in use in locations around the world, using a ‘traffic light’ system to control traffic. “At the heart of it is FootfallCam’s Stereoscopic Vision People Counter. The camera system integrates with our Analytics Manager software to provide a simple on screen ‘green for go, red for no go’ which controls social distancing and even social awkwardness. It’s a safe occupancy system which far exceeds a person with a clipboard.”
UK-headquartered FootfallCam is a privately held company founded in 2002. The company’s people counting systems are used globally in sectors varying from retail, fast food restaurants, and museums to smart buildings and airports.
The company’s Stereoscopic camera incorporates 3D image processing which equips it to intelligently distinguish people from non-human objects and track directional movement of a walking person. Its Business Intelligence System performs predictive analysis using pattern matching methodology, machine learning and deep learning.
The applications for people counting systems are diverse and, when combined with other Internet of Things solutions such as Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL) or ‘Magic Mirror’ displays, appealing business cases emerge.
Kao explains that ESL allows retailers of any kind – from corner stores through to multinational supermarkets – to control the end-pricing of goods accurately and rapidly. “Done manually, this is an enormous task. With omnichannel, matching in store with online prices is a headache.”
ESL technology can be applied in warehousing, too, where ‘smart labels’ can aid picking and packing by directing personnel through a system of flashing lights.
Kau explains FootfallCam’s place in these applications. “The cameras serve as IoT beacons in addition to scanning for people. Our hardware is highly versatile, which opens up new opportunities particularly for resellers providing IoT solutions in the retail space. With a single device, you’re able to deliver advanced 3D people analytics – with a closely-coupled analytics package – as well as functionality which creates substantial efficiency advantages.”
With Magic Mirror, Kau explains FootfallCam is capable of analysing consumer behaviour., providing resellers and marketers with deeper insights into how people engage with and react to displays, specific products and their locations. “Our 3D technology means we can build a clear view of how customers behave over time. This allows adjustments and refinements to achieve the best results.”
Because FootfallCam manufactures its own hardware, she adds, it is able to include additional bespoke features for customers. “If it’s WiFi, or LoRa, Bluetooth or anything else – it’s just another chip on the motherboard. And that makes FootfallCam versatile and an ideal foot in the door for the reseller providing retail solutions.”
Blackmore says the introduction of FootfallCam solutions should be of particular interest to resellers interested in the delivery of IoT and smart building solutions. “While there’s been a lot of talk around IoT, the fact is, the market is in its infancy. There aren’t yet a lot of resellers around the country focused on this market – but an enormous amount of investment is going in, particularly as 5G advances and various other enabling platforms are put in place.”
This, he says, means opportunity for well-placed solution providers. “With solutions like FootfallCam, the addressable market is wide. Restaurants, bars, corner shops, corporate offices, airports, museums, toilets – they all need people control as a first step. And from there, they may well benefit from analysis and other solutions which can boost your sales, and their value.”