Xbox sensors monitor foot traffic at CMU

Xbox sensors monitor foot traffic at CMU
Carnegie Mellon University has installed Xbox One Kinect Sensors at a number of locations across its campus to monitor foot traffic, to collect data that can be used by heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to optimize settings. (Carnegie Mellon University)

Like many campuses, Carnegie Mellon University has used sensors on campus for different reasons. Foot traffic is one. Several Xbox One Kinect Sensors have been installed above doorways across campus, such as the entrance to the university’s Wiegand Gym and entrances to various restrooms and labs.

According to an article on the university’s Tartan news site, the sensors are part of an ongoing research project led by Mario Bergés, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Bergés was quoted as saying an email that the university is “interested in making our built environment more operationally efficient and robust through the use of information and communication technologies.”

Bergés’ work focuses on “developing approximate inference techniques to extract useful information from sensor data coming from civil infrastructure systems, with a particular focus on buildings and energy efficiency.” He explained that data from sensors monitoring foot traffic could be used, for example, to optimize settings for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems for the number of occupants in a room and the thermal comfort preferences of the occupants.

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Bergés added that the sensors rely on depth imaging and are not camera sensors. They provide us with a depth map of the scene (i.e., how far from the camera each pixel in the image is). We use that to count the number of ‘heads’ coming in and out,” Bergés was quoted as saying.

While the sensor project is slated to end next year, Bergés said there’s no immediate plan to take the sensors down.

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