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Density Sees Health-Care Applications for its Foot-Traffic Sensors

The San Francisco startup says that the data it provides could be used, for example, to determine which nearby hospital is the least busy before deciding where to bring a patient.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

The Density module continually updates the number of individuals who are inside a building or a room within a building, based on its ongoing analysis of the data from the IR sensor mounted above a doorway. (Inanimate objects, such as suitcases or shopping carts, are filtered out based on the lack of a discernable human head.) Each time the tally changes, the module sends the updated figure to Density's cloud-based server, via the building's Wi-Fi network or through an Ethernet connection.

From there, Density makes the data available to its customers—usually the facility's owner or management company, or the business or organization that leases the space—through an application programming interface (API). A large facility with multiple doors can be monitored by daisy-chaining the tallies from multiple sensors, which are fed into a central receiver that sends the updated total to the server.

The new Density sensor
Density's customers might use the data internally to understand foot-traffic patterns, or to analyze the most and least busy hours at a place of business, in order to improve staffing. For example, the ridesharing service Uber is using Density to track foot traffic at its New York City support center, where thousands of Uber drivers seek services each week. "They are going to use Density to determine busy times and quiet times, and predict spikes in visitation," Farah says. :In order to improve a driver's experience, they plan to more effectively staff their spaces and better understand how people use them."

But some of Density's customers are using traffic data as a service to their customers. Workfrom is integrating the number of likely available seats (based on the Density sensor) into its app, so that workers on the go can find the least-crowded spots.

Density is not creating its own application for consumers, because its philosophy is that consumers should be able to access the information through the services and apps they already use. "So if you use a mapping app [with business listings], or an app that rates restaurants," Farah explains, you should be able to see how crowded places are through those apps. (He did not reveal the names of any particular mapping or recommendation services that Density is targeting.)

But reliable data on foot-traffic data could also be valuable information to some surprising stakeholders. "Some businesses have expensive insurance policies that set limits on how many people can occupy spaces that people visit regularly," Farah says. If insurers could verify the number of people within a space over time, he adds, perhaps they might offer premium discounts for policy-holders who abide by occupancy limits.

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