Electronics and Semiconductors

CES 2022: How radar and computer vision can help smart cities

05 January 2022
An IoT AI system is deployed on a tourist location to count traffic and busy times during the day for better city planning. Source: Ulisse

When it comes to smart cities, ensuring privacy is something that needs to be of critical importance.

When designing its radar and computer vision-based internet of things (IoT) artificial intelligence platform, connected spaces startup Ulisse kept this in mind.

The company has unveiled at this week’s CES 2022 a new analytics system designed for retailers, businesses and smart cities to turn spaces intelligent without privacy restrictions.

“When you are measuring people’s behaviors within physical spaces it’s all about the data integrity and privacy,” said Luca Nestola, CEO at Ulisse. “Our differentiator is getting the best of both by the unique use of radar technology. In fact, by meshing the signals coming from different sensors we are able to improve data accuracy, bringing it to the highest level. It’s called radar fusion.”

The platform is camera-free and includes self-installing sensors and algorithms to adapt to any situation and provide real-time analytics. Cameras run the risk of invading privacy and require stable lighting. With radar, it increases the overall accuracy of the analytics and reduces the required density of sensors in the physical environment making it less expensive.

In smart cities, this IoT AI technology can be used to realign human experience with a post-pandemic world. In some cities such as Venice and Florence, Italy, tourism is the main economy. Before COVID-19, it was thought to be a bottomless well. But the pandemic changed travel and how people think about tourism.

Tourists can be harmful to the environment as they are constantly on the move and always crowding the same spots, Nestola said. In a post-pandemic context, behavioral traits of tourists will be even more critical. Currently, Ulisse is using the radar technology to:

  • Track and understand behaviors within tourist attractions like museums and pedestrian areas.
  • Measure real-time transportation usage in order to dynamically plan and adapt the boat frequency in Venice and bus frequency in Rome.
  • Identify high-congestion areas within tourist attraction zones in a city.
  • Identify the people flows during business or leisure events for real-time safety and better space layout planning.

Pilot projects

Ulisse is set to begin a pilot project in Singapore where the city’s cable cars will be installed with the analytics platform. Beginning in March, three cable car lines in the city will be used to determine the crowds and comfort-level of the transit systems.

Nestola said the project will determine the exact number of guests at the Mount Faber cable car station during specific periods of time to give insights to Singapore Cable Car company. This data will allow the company to improve the experience with the cable car and receive information on what needs improvement.

“Knowing the exact number of visitors in each cable car in real time will provide useful information to help authorities with the enforcement of social distancing, while reducing the time to resolve a contingency in case of a failure in the line, as well as reducing the cost of premiums paid to the insurance company,” Nestola said.

Another pilot project is taking place in Venice, Italy, where the system will analyze and measure the density of tourists traveling through the town. Additionally, luxury fashion brands have implemented the platform to determine how customers behave and interact with the display windows.

Other smart cities applications include measuring real-time transportation use of boat frequency in Venice and bus frequency in Rome. Additionally, technology is being used to identify congestion areas within tourist attraction zones in a city or to monitor people flowing to businesses or leisure events for real-time safety and space layout planning.

Potential use cases

The radar and computer vision IoT platform could be used beyond just smart cities.

Nestola said retail is a likely destination for the system as it could be used to optimize store layouts, reduce unnecessary space, triggering staff in real time to influence visitor behavior and more.

In corporate buildings, it could save on the square footage needed for staff or in scaffolding and to detect human access and trigger alarms for security purposes.

Tracking transportation use in real time and adapting bus frequency to meet passenger demands would be a fit for the system as well as to help avoid congestion and help authorities enforce social distancing guidelines.

Elder care may also be a potential use case where the system identifies falling events and how often they happen in different areas. Or it could detect common issues such as UTI or dehydration early on.

CES 2022 takes place January 5-8 in Las Vegas.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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