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Sensors built into flooring!

With the help of a new system developed at EPFL, building owners can detect the number of occupants and track their movement using sensors installed on floor slabs. This innovation could be primarily be implemented for enhancing safety in retirement homes or managing and keeping track of movement of people in busy spaces and large crowded areas. This could especially prove to be useful in situations which require emergency evacuation in large buildings.

Many buildings, manufacturing sites, shopping malls and other public spaces are equipped with occupant detection systems. These systems are generally rely on cameras or occupants’ mobile phones. Such technologies infringe on privacy and may not function in emergencies such as fires. Just like google maps shows live traffic updates by triangulating the location of android phones by using gps data, imagine if the roads had sensors built into them !

Scientists at ENAC’s Applied Computing and Mechanics Laboratory (IMAC), headed by Professor Ian Smith, have developed all an alternative approach. “By installing sensors in a building’s floor slabs, we can measure the vibrations created by footsteps. That lets us calculate the number of people in the building as well as where they are located and their trajectory,” says Slah Drira.

The Centre aims to provide the practical solutions to some of the most pressing challenges in urban sustainability, resilience and health.

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