For most places around the world, enclosed spaces have a set limit for the amount of occupants which are allowed, in a bid to enforce social distancing during the COVID-1p pandemic. The People Counter, a maker device you can assemble yourself, seeks to automate this.

Said enclosed spaces, especially retail shops, have gone about restricting the amount of people in the stores in various ways. Here in South Africa, for example, shoppers are given clothes line pegs to attach to their shirts. These are handed out at the front of the shop and then returned when they leave, allowing for a cheap and simple way to track the amount of people.

This isn’t a perfect solution as pegs can be misplaced or taken home, and even with a lot of sanitation there’s still the need to physically touch the pegs.

The People Counter avoids all of this by being entirely wireless by using off the shelf sensors and a few other items sold by RS Components.

“Two photoelectric proximity sensors, or light barriers, detect the direction of
movement, while a miniature PLC calculates the number of people in and out of the
store in real time. A password-protected CAN touch screen is used to pre-set the
maximum people limit and also serves as a ‘traffic light’ system, illuminating green
when access is granted and red when access is denied. There is also an audio alert.
The miniature PLC processes the data and controls the display,” reads a press release sent to us.

The aforementioned RS Components is behind the People Counter together with BARTH Elektronik GmbH.

Because of this RS Components electronics are used in this project. The aforementioned sensors and touch screen, for example, are sold by the local arm of the company in South Africa for R1 221.45 and R3 575.88 respectively, which means this is a very expensive idea that only the bigger companies will be able to put together.

That being said this has been released as a maker project you can do yourself. The full instructions for a People Counter and the required downloads are all available on RS Components’ DesignSpark platform. We’re sure the costs here can be cut down by some crafty individuals in the maker community.

Companies with money to burn and no makers on staff can also outright buy a commercial version of this idea, which incorporates a large steel structure that is very much plug and play. It sells for just shy of R20 000.

The smaller DIY version of the People Counter.