Optimise with people counters | StoreTech


People counters come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavours. From break beams, infrared, thermal, and video all can capture people's movement.

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A brief history of people counters

The evolution of people counters

People counters have been used for centuries to track the number of people entering and exiting a building or area. The earliest known use of a people counter was in the late 1700s, when a French inventor named Jacques de Vaucanson created a mechanical counter that could count up to 999 people. The device was used in the Louvre museum in Paris to keep track of the number of visitors.

In the late 1800s, mechanical people counters were used in stores and factories to track the number of customers and workers. In the early 1900s, people counters were used in theaters to track ticket sales.

In the early 1900s, the first electronic people counters were developed and used in stores to track customer traffic. These counters used infrared beams to detect people passing through a doorway. Since then, people counters have become increasingly sophisticated, with the development of infrared, thermal, and video-based counters. Today, people counters are used in a variety of settings, including retail stores, airports, museums, and public transportation to help businesses better understand customer behavior and optimize operations.

StoreTech is hardware agnostic, which allows us to try and test the best people counters on the market and recommend the right type of people counter for your environment. We can even make use of people counters you may already have, for a cost-effective upgrade to your current system linked to our powerful performance management cloud portal.

People counters have evolved over the decades like most electronics. Becoming more accurate, robust and reliable. Likewise the cost has also come down as the technologies become more widespread.

The earliest people counters were the manual clickers. Still used today in some instances. This requires someone standing close by to literally count everyone that passes by. As you can imagine, this is quite labour intensive, requiring the person with the clicker to not get distracted. Accuracy will vary greatly as human error will play a big part.

StoreTech started in 1998 and was one of the first companies to count people in retail environments using break-beam technology before moving to more sophisticated infrared and thermal sensors. We understood the benefit of knowing how many people were entering your store could provide invaluable insight and allow the store to objectively measure and optimise performance.

Your guide to people counters

With so many different people counters in the market from various manufacturers, where do you start? Let us help... 

Battery Powered Beam People Counters

This battery-powered counter comes in two parts, the transmitter which is constantly emitting an invisible infrared beam, and a receiver. Each is positioned on either side of a single door. When the beam is broken by someone walking through the beam, a count is registered.

2D Mono Video People Counters

2D mono counters as the name suggests have a single camera lens. The people counter is installed on the ceiling above a door. Due to poor vision depth, the device can struggle in low or very bright sunlight, where there are shadows, and where there is high footfall.

3D Stereo Video People Counters

3D sensors from the likes of Flir and Xovis provide a high resolution and processor of three-dimensional objects. Suitable for high-traffic areas and customer engagement. Devices are powered over Ethernet. Sensors can be daisy-chained together for wide entrances.

Thermal People Counters

Irisys developed the early thermal sensors for people counting. They detect the temperature difference between the environment and an individual walking underneath the field of view. Ceiling mounted they can be linked together for wide entrances and can operate in total darkness. 

4D Time of Flight People Counters

Irisys lead's the industry with high-end ToF people counters. Ceiling mounted, they work in a similar way to a laser tape measure. GDPR compliant, as no video imaging is used to detect a person's movement. Accuracy can be >99% and therefore ideal for occupancy detection. 

Infrared People Counters

Mounted above the entrance, the device works by using infrared light to count people as they move across the field of view. Thermal and infrared people counters do not use any personally identifiable information during their processing.

Passive Infrared (PIR) People Counters

Wireless passive infrared sensors from our sister company Flexicount provide a low-cost, battery-operated method of usage over a single door. The sensor detects changes as someone walks underneath the device. Data is available in 15 or 30-minute increments via a separate 3G hub. 

CCTV for use as People Counters

A closed-circuit television camera's main purpose is for security monitoring. However, some manufacturers will highlight the ability to provide people count or occupancy data. Depending on the oblique angle of the CCTV device accuracy can be compromised due to occlusion.

Wireless Wi-Fi Counters

Using Wireless Access Points from companies like Meraki and Cisco it's possible to monitor the number of 'devices' a person has with Wi-Fi turned on. Some smartphone manufacturers randomize a phone's MAC address and therefore a device may be picked up more than once. 

RF Sensor

This 4G mains powered sensor is ceiling mounted and gathers anonymous, non-personal radio frequency signals emitted by shoppers' personal devices. Using AI the data provides walk-by insight, and using trilateration can provide the full customer journey including dwell time.

People Counter Technologies

Customer tracking technologies | StoreTech

Real-time locating systems (RTLS) are used to automatically identify and track the location of objects or people in real-time, usually within a building or other contained area.

As you can see there are trade-offs in cost, accuracy, and range depending on the type of people counter you select for your business. 

With 25 years of experience in the people counting sector, we've tested many of them.

If you would like a no-obligation chat about our experience and what we would recommend for your environment. You can trust us to only put our name against tried and tested people counters. 

Get in touch with a people counting expert.

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The benefits of people counters

Powerful people counting insight, so you can make the most relevant business decisions.


What time of day should I expect the most footfall?

Effective resources

When is the best time to plan staff breaks?

Staff to demand

Does my site have the right number of contracted hours?

Performance focus

What affect does a promotion have on traffic?

Smart planning

Is my site affected by the manager's day off?


Do we carry out tasks at the right times of day?

Irisys people counters

  • Highly accurate people counting; >99%
  • Time of flight 4D technology
  • Accurate occupancy analytics
  • Truly anonymous people counting
  • 450,000 sensors installed worldwide
  • Powered via PoE
  • One outbound port open for data transmission
learn more about Irisys people counters
Irisys Vector 4D People Counter | StoreTech


People counters can be very accurate, depending on the type of technology used. Some people counters use infrared sensors to detect movement and count people as they enter or exit a space. These sensors can be very accurate, with some models being able to detect people up to 98% of the time. Other people counters use video analytics to detect and count people. These systems can also be very accurate, with some models being able to detect and count people up to 95% of the time.

Using the latest time of flight infrared sensors, customers and visitors are counted accurately and anonymously from an overhead sensor. These latest IoT devices are highly accurate at up to 99% in real world conditions and offer complete privacy by being infrared.

For more information please see: Irisys people counters

You may see them called people counter, footfall sensor, door counter, or traffic counter. They all deliver the same basic principle of people tracking using video, thermal, and time of flight technologies. Accuracy levels can vary and therefore we'd recommend carefully selecting a people counter that is reliable and consistent. In terms of accuracy, you do want a people counter that you can believe in the data, knowing that in most cases you will be using it for statistical analysis, meaning it should be suitable for providing patterns and trends on your customer or visitor flow in and out of your space.

People counters or footfall counters are sensor technologies that capture the movement of people within the field of view. Technologies include break-beam, infrared, video, and time of flight, each becoming more accurate than the previous. In recent years, sensors have been shown to achieve over 95% accuracy and are now used to provide occupancy data insight in retail and office workspace environments. If you are unsure as to what technology is right for you, or perhaps you are looking to upgrade your old people counters.

Find out more as we've helped many to businesses to do the same.

  1. Improved customer service: People counters can help businesses understand customer behavior and identify areas where customer service can be improved.
  2. Increased sales: People counters can help businesses understand the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and identify areas where sales can be increased.
  3. Improved security: People counters can help businesses identify areas where security can be improved, such as identifying suspicious activity or identifying areas where theft is more likely to occur.
  4. Improved efficiency: People counters can help businesses identify areas where efficiency can be improved, such as identifying areas where staff can be better utilized.
  5. Improved customer experience: People counters can help businesses identify areas where customer experience can be improved, such as identifying areas where customer service can be improved or identifying areas where customer satisfaction can be increased.

A people counter is a device that is used to count the number of people entering or exiting a given area. It is typically used in retail stores, airports, and other public places to measure foot traffic. People counters are typically used to measure customer flow, analyze customer behavior, and optimize staffing levels.


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Talk to a people counting expert

Request a no-obligation demo to talk through your requirements and allow us to share our 25 years of experience and knowledge of people counting and retail performance management.

What will you get out of a call with a people counting expert:

  • ✓ What people counting sensors are right for you
  • Why our solution can uncover hidden opportunities
  • How to increase sales and conversion
  • ✓ Discuss your requirements and a tailored quote

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