People counter maker project to helps social distancing efforts

18-05-2020 | RS Components | New Technologies

RS Components has joined forces with BARTH Elektronik GmbH to create a simple maker project that assists social distancing in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The project, called ‘People Counter’, can be constructed in less than an hour and records the amount of people entering and leaving a room, indicating when it is safe to enable more people to enter while still keeping the recommended distance from others. This is especially effective in retail environments where safe social distancing can be challenging to control.

Two photoelectric proximity sensors or light barriers, identify the direction of movement, while a miniature PLC calculates the amount of people in and out of the store in real-time. A password-protected CAN touch screen is employed to pre-set the maximum people limit and also works as a ‘traffic light’ system, illuminating green when access is allowed and red when access is refused. There is also an audio alert. The miniature PLC processes the data and controls the display.

Daniel Barth, CEO of BARTH Elektronik, who devised this project, commented: “The idea came from the challenge that many businesses currently face when restricting the number of people in shops. Maintaining a reasonable maximum can reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading further through human contact. It was important to find a precise, contactless solution that could protect public health while avoiding the costs associated with employing extra staff to monitor numbers manually.”

Mike Bray, VP of Innovation at RS, added: “This is a simple project that could have a huge, positive impact on the way retailers help protect customers from COVID-19 while they are out shopping. We would encourage any makers keen to help combat the virus to look at this project and consider how it could support businesses in their area, and then perhaps help those retailers to implement it. Makers really can make a difference.”

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