FlandersMake@UHasselt develops a system to monitor occupancy rate
Social distancing is key
As you know, social distancing is one of the, if not the, most important precaution we can take in preventing Covid-19 infections. In this context, our researchers at UHasselt have developed a system with which we can monitor the occupancy rate of a room using Bluetooth 'beacons'.
Through this tool you can see at a glance whether there aren't too many people in a room and whether more people can enter in a Covid-safe way. By monitoring the occupancy rate this way, you can limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus in your facilities.
The system is, in the first instance, aimed at companies, shops, schools, meeting centres, events, etc. It allows them to continue their activities, albeit in an adapted way. The system works via Bluetooth 'beacons' and 'gateways'.
The Bluetooth 'beacons' are transmitters the size of a two euro coin and are made available to anyone entering the room/building. There are gateways in the room at fixed positions that communicate with the individual beacons via Bluetooth.
The strength of the signal determines the distance to different gateways and allows us to determine not only the position of each beacon (or person), but also the number of people in the room. Through a monitor at the entrance of the room you can see what the capacity of the room is and if it has already been reached. In addition, we also provide an overview of the occupancy rate of the monitored locations, allowing you to monitor everything from a distance.
After reading the above you might think, why could this not be achieved by means of the Bluetooth chip in my smartphone? Well, for privacy reasons we chose to work with separate Bluetooth 'beacons'. Unlike our smartphone, these 'beacons' work completely anonymously. The system only registers movement patterns without any personal data being linked to them. So this is a 100% anonymous system that respects the user's privacy.
After initial testing at UHasselt, we have now set up a prototype of the system in one of our own meeting rooms in our Leuven office. Here we are testing the operation even further. In the next phase we will explore how companies will be able to deploy this technology.