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German company launches sensor ‘smart mat’ for social distancing

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InnovationLab, a company developing printed electronics, has introduced an innovative “smart mat”, which is sensor-based distance-control floor mat that helps ensure social distancing.

New research cites 50% risk reduction of COVID-19 when maintaining two meters (approximately 6.6 feet) of distance between people compared to a one-meter distance. Now that retail shops have opened, maintaining that distance between both shoppers and cashiers in retail settings has never been more critical. Some existing systems monitor shoppers’ locations and the number of people in a store through cameras, but such systems are limited by accuracy and privacy issues.

Leveraging InnovationLab’s field-proven capacity to print high-accuracy, high-volume roll-to-roll electronics, the smart mat demonstrator uses a sensor array to control a traffic light-style indicator which detects when a shopper stands on it. In a simple use case, the smart mat displays a red light when a person is standing on the mat, and green when no one is there, signalling that the next customer can proceed.

The intelligent sensor matrix embedded in the smart mat features more than 8,000 individual sensors spaced at 1 cm intervals, which enables differentiation between human steps and the wheels of a grocery cart, for example. In addition to promoting safe social distancing in a retail environment, the smart mat platform could be further customized to analyse in-store traffic. InnovationLab is already working with industry leader SAP, making it easier to integrate the sensor data with existing retail IT systems and gain new insights on customer behaviour.

InnovationLab is demonstrating its smart mat in a retail store in Heidelberg, Germany.

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