During the COVID-19 pandemic, life as we know it has changed in many ways. One of these instances being how people shop at grocery stores, department stores, and just about anywhere business is done. There is a limit to how many people can be inside all of these places at any given time. The stores have unique maximum capacities based on their square footage and how many people can safely social distance in the store. Stores must keep track of the number of customers to adhere to and not break the COVID guidelines. Before the COVID Counter, stores would have an employee at the entrance keeping track of the customers manually, whether with laminated numbers or a checklist or another tedious method. Then, if the store had two sets of doors, there would be an additional employee tracking and alerting the entrance employee of how many people were leaving. This isn’t always accurate and not the optimal use of an employee’s time.
Now, with the COVID counter, there is no need for employees monitoring the doors to make sure the maximum capacity isn't exceeded. The COVID counter does this all by itself through the use of motion sensors and an LCD module. There is one motion sensor placed at the entrance door and another placed at the exit door. When a customer enters, the LCD module increases the customer count and when a customer leaves through the exit door, a message is sent to the entrance mechanism, which decreases the total count of customers on the LCD module. This display is also programmed to tell potential customers whether they may enter or not depending on if the customer count has reached its store-specific maximum capacity. In addition to keeping track of the customers on the LCD module, there is live data sent directly to ThingSpeak. So, instead of having employees fully committed to standing by the door for their entire shift, there can be one employee doing their necessary tasks with the minor addition of occasionally checking in with the COVID Counter to be sure everything is running smoothly.
All in all, the COVID Counter is the ideal system to use in the midst of a pandemic and will continue to be a viable product for businesses that wish to remain below maximum capacity once the pandemic has passed. The COVID Counter leaves customers feeling more comfortable and safe in their shopping experience and allows companies to optimize their employees’ time and effort while also following protocol. Could you really ask for more?YouTube Video:
Real-Time Data (ThingSpeak):
This real-time graph displays the exact amount of customers in a store at any given time. Whenever a customer enters the store, the customer count is increased by 1 and whenever a customer leaves the store, the customer count is decreased by 1. This graph only displays the 60 most recent data points. Live data updates can be accessed at: COVID Counter: Real-Time Data
How to Set Up:
This project can be easily set up using the listed supplies above. The first thing to do is insert the argons, sensors, wiring, and components into your breadboards properly. The above pictures of the argons, along with the detailed schematics should be followed closely. It is crucial to pay close attention to the wiring for the LCD display because if only one of the many wires is out of place the display will not work. An image of the correct way to set up the argon on the wall next to the entrance doorway is provided below. The next step is to set up a ThingSpeak account to have live data and record the number of customers going in and out of the store. After this, a Webhook needs to be created in the integrations section of the particle console. Screenshots detailing what to insert into the ThingSpeak channel and Webhook set up are provided below. Next, reference and look through the code provided below. The code only needs minor changes in the ThingSpeak portion by inserting a unique channel ID and API codes. Detailed annotations are provided in the code itself to further provide assistance. Now, the last step is to flash the updated code to the two argons and enjoy the benefits of the COVID Counter.
Argon set up on wall next to doorway, with motion sensor pointed at doorway
ThingSpeak Channel Settings