People counter can be a very valuable sensor

people walking in a busy office with a people counter

People counters and sensors are vital for optimizing the use of offices. Underused office space is a waste of money. According to our estimates, businesses could save up to 30% of their office space. This would translate into a significant reduction in cost. 

Optimizing the office or public spaces relies on understanding how your space is currently being used. And also which spaces can be used more efficiently, taking user experience into account, of course. This is why reliable and accurate people counting technology is the basis for optimizing the use of an office or any other space.

Download Thingsee COUNT – People counting solution documentation

Thingsee COUNT people counter IoT device installed above a doorframe

Where are people counters used?

People counters have a multitude of use cases. They can be implemented in any premise where foot traffic exists. From retail to public areas and offices, the valuable information from people counters helps you make informed decisions to optimize your spaces. 

There are a lot of places where people counters can be used to bring significant benefits to space optimization. Here are some examples:


  • Monitoring real-time entries & exits
  • Boosting sales & conversion

Public areas

  • Traffic flow analysis
  • Identifying high-traffic areas

Office spaces

  • Monitoring footfall
  • Understanding how current spaces are used
  • Optimizing layouts


  • Real-time occupancy
  • Zone analytics
  • Queue management, for example at the check-in

How do people counter sensors work?

People counter is a device used to measure the number of people passing through a certain entrance in a built environment.

The technology can vary from simple solutions using light beams, to more complex sensors that employ stereo cameras, time-of-flight sensors or thermal imagery.

The sensor is installed, for example, above a doorway, like in the following image. This sensor shown recognizes moving objects as separate people if the distance between the people is 50cm or more.

Example of how a simple overhead infrared beam sensor works:

Infrared-based people counter working logic
Infrared-based people counter working logic

There are a few ways a people counter sensor can work. It can be based on an infrared beam, thermal technology, video technology or computer-vision/AI. 

Here is some of the variety, including their benefits and disadvantages:

Infrared beam / overhead sensors

Infrared beam-based people counters use a horizontal infrared beam, which is directed across an entrance to count the visitors. The visitors are counted as they break that said beam. These are the most cost-effective and simple way to measure footfall in a space.

+ Fast & easy to install

+ Inexpensive, great value

+ Good for smaller establishments

+ Always GDPR compliant & protects identities

– Limited accuracy

– Inability to distinguish incoming & outgoing visitors

– Only basic footfall data, no demographics similar to video-based counters

Thermal counters

Thermal people counters use heat-sensitive sensor technology to count visitors in their field of vision. They can count multidirectional but can be affected by environmental factors.

+ Multidirectional counting

+ Wide coverage

+ Good accuracy

+ Always GDPR compliant & protects identities

– Affected by humidity

– Lower FOV compared to video counters

– Visitors need to be in motion

Video-based counters

People counters that are based on video rely on camera technology to detect objects moving in their field of view. Their biggest drawback is their incapability to differentiate between people and objects. 

+ Easy to install

+ Wide coverage

+ Real-time analytics

– Expensive

– Accuracy is affected by shadows & poor lighting

– Lack of demographic data

Computer vision & AI-powered counters

Computer vision & AI-powered people counters are the latest iteration of a familiar concept and are based on stereoscopic computer vision. They are accurate at gaining insights about visitor demographics but are also very expensive. 

+ Visitor demographics

+ Real-time analytics

– Really expensive

What can we learn from people counting data?

The people counters are used to measure different business metrics, determine potential pain points and enable the potential for improvement based on data. 

While there are a variety of people counters, most of them will offer similar metrics to help you make decisions. These metrics can include the following:

  • Footfall in space, real-time entries & exits
  • Occupancy rates
  • Busy hours
  • The most attractive locations and rooms
  • Traffic flow
  • Visit duration

To optimize your spaces without making any sacrifices to employee or visitor experience, the data from the people counter can help. Having an accurate and reliable people counting system is a vital part of optimizing the space usage on your premises. 

What can you do with people counter and occupancy rate data?

Based on the data you get from a people counting system, you can for example: 

  • Reallocate office spaces
  • Reduce required office space
  • Re-route people through different paths
  • Efficiently re-program elevators, public transportation, etc.
  • Predictive analysis and decision making, understanding trends

Choose the right people counter for you

Choosing the right type of people counter depends on your business goals, types of entrances and the size & layout of your premise. Of course, the cost and accuracy needed are key factors in this decision. 

Combine these with the easiness of integration to current systems and the provided dashboards or other software features to decide on the best solution for your case. 

The simplest and most cost-effective solutions are usually the best for offices where the most benefits come from monitoring footfall traffic and understanding space usage. This solution is choosing infrared people counters, which usually are used as overhead sensors in entrances. 

With an infrared-based people counter, the hassle of the more complex systems and their installation processes is avoided, and you can get results quickly. 

Factor in the cost savings a simple infrared-based people counter brings in comparison to for example a camera-based system, and the value created is unmatched. 

Our new Thingsee COUNT people counter is an accurate people counting solution that is secure, cost-effective, and reliable, all in one package. With Thingsee COUNT you achieve the greatest value for the office environment.

people walking in a busy office with a people counter

Download Thingsee COUNT documentation