VTT pilots depth camera technology in shopping centres, offices and senior apartments
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has been developing an advanced
tracking system based on depth cameras that provides accurate information on
how people move about and behave in various spaces. The system can be applied,
for example, to improving customer service in retail shops, optimisation of
the use of office facilities, or as an assisting tool for independent living
of the elderly. During this summer and autumn, the tracking system will be
piloted at Shalkwijk Shopping Centre in Haarlem in the Netherlands, and with
Procter & Gamble in Brussels, and in the city of Rovaniemi in Finland.
Depth cameras allow collection of valuable real-time information of how people
behave in a shop, for example: where they spend their time, what draws their
interest, or where they intend to go next. VTT has been developing depth
camera technology based smarter systems for tracking people's movements in
several projects since 2010. By analysing the gathered information, it is
possible for example to model various customer types as well as design store
layouts and product displays to meet the customer and retailer needs, in
addition to providing improved customer service.
A depth camera measures the distance to a variety of surfaces with the help of
a laser dot pattern operating in the IR range. The dots measured form a depth
map, the analysis of which enables creation of a 3D representation of the
space, identifying objects, and tracking the moving objects.
VTT is in the process of launching several pilots with the aim to test the
operation of a people tracking system under everyday conditions. During this
summer and autumn, the solution will be tested at Rinteenkulma Shopping Centre
in the city of Rovaniemi in Finland as well as at Shalkwijk Shopping Centre in
Haarlem, the Netherlands.
The same technology approach can also be applied to provision of support for
senior citizens living at home. In this case, the system collects information
on the elderly person's daily routines and detects any deviations in them,
allowing interference at an early stage in possible problems caused by, for
example, memory disorders. The goal is to enable safe and independent living
for the elderly in their own homes for as long as possible.
Other potential applications for a depth camera based tracking system include
optimisation of the use of conference rooms and work spaces in common use. In
addition to tracking the real-time utilisation rate of such facilities, the
system also allows the collection of more detailed information on which sorts
of purposes in use employees apply to the premises. With regard to facility
management, the solution will be piloted in collaboration with Procter &
Gamble in Brussels in autumn.
According to VTT's researchers, the use of people tracking systems does not
constitute problems related to privacy. Depth cameras do not record
photographic content, and individuals cannot be identified in the depth image
– only human figures and their movements.
VTT is also participating FP7 Research for benefit of SME project, D-SenS,
which develops depth sensing technology for different application domains.
Video: See how tracking data is collected in a shop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZGtyy9CTCc