Trying to keep track of large numbers of people can be tricky, but new technology could leverage the smartphones that people carry with them. A new sensor designed by Libelium is able to detect WiFi and Bluetooth wireless signals, which are then picked up by a multiprotocol router in order to calculate the number of bodies in an area. It does rely on on people carrying mobile devices with the radios, but it’s an intriguing (and possibly worrying) use of technology.
Libelium CTO, David Gascón, says that the Meshlium Xtreme doesn’t need smartphones to have any special apps installed to be be detected, instead relying on the keep alive signals sent out from WiFi and Bluetooth radios. While that may have privacy implications, Gascón says devices can’t be individually identified, and the signals are only used to give a rough idea of the number of devices in a given area. The information that is sent includes the MAC address, Class of Device, and Vendor.
The potential applications for the tech include vehicle traffic management and the measurement of street activity. The router can determine the flow of traffic in real time, as well as traffic congestion, and could calculate how many pedestrians walk on a given street, and how long they stop in front of a certain shopping window.