Will this design from Philips be a “new normal” for retail post-coronavirus?

New “queue management” designs from Philips look to Android technology to implement two-metre social distancing regulations in retail settings.

Dutch technology company Philips has launched a newly designed “queue management” system, which aims to enforce social distancing rules using technology.

For weeks now, countries around the world have implemented strict regulations so members of the public remain at least two metres (or six feet) away from each other, to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. As many governments begin to consider pathways out of lockdown measures, it’s likely social distancing will be here to stay long after other restraints are lifted.

Among the industries that will have to be physically redesigned is retail, and for this, Philips has designed digital solution PeopleCount.

“Complete inclusivity”

The circumstances brought about by the pandemic are unforeseen – in designing the PeopleCount, Philips therefore says consideration had to be given as to how the products could easily be integrated into the existing infrastructure of any give store.

The new design, developed by its professional display solutions arm (Philips PDS), will use Android technology to power digital displays fitted at one or more points of entry into shops.

The screens broadcast to those waiting outside how many people are in the shop, what the capacity for that store is, and whether they can safely enter the store or need to wait outside. Philips adds that to ensure “complete inclusivity” further information can be added to the display, such as audio broadcasts or a traffic light colour system.

In order to effectively gauge the data for the board, “smart people counting cameras” are positioned around building entrances. The device could also, Philips explains, be hooked up to any automatic doors so that opening and closing of doors based on capacity could be done without the need of supervision.

“Technology can play a huge role in maintaining guidelines”

Many shoppers will be familiar with the kinds of adjustments that social distancing rules has already brought about – queue outside supermarkets, one-way systems instore and protective screens at checkouts are all common sights.

But as more stores begin to reopen, Philips PDS’ Roeland Scholten suggests turning to technology will be a more sustainable alternative in the long run.

“Something as simple as visiting a supermarket or entering a leisure setting may now require a new level of thought, from queuing up outside to following marked-out routes,” he says. “Technology can play a huge role in ensuring the current rules and guidelines are maintained and that customers and staff feel confident, safe and well informed at all times as they make moves back into a new normal.

Thus far, introduction of the PeopleCount systems have been predominantly in the Benelux region, but Philips says “conversations with a number of leading organisations are taking place in the UK”.

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