Fromjames Bond to your local retailer, 3D-LiDAR technology Solves a broad array of challenges
James Bond1 films are known for pushing the envelope of ground-breaking technologies – like lasers, sensors and even heatmaps that help 007 overcome global fiends. Well, now these technologies have come to your local retailer or hospital or the train you take to work.
Known as 3D-LiDAR (light detection and ranging), this technology uses sensors and lasers to produce an instantaneous, 3D heatmap of an individual’s or object’s movements, and processes that data in real time – a 3D-LiDAR device is a true IoT imaging device with edge computing capabilities. The LiDAR market is growing rapidly and expected to reach $3.45 billion by 2023.2
Here’s how it works: A laser beam reflects off objects and people and is picked up by an extremely accurate charge-coupled device sensor that determines the time it takes the beam to return. This process allows the near infrared sensors to calculate the size, shape and position of objects.
By repeating this process multiple times per second, 3D-LiDAR sensors track movement, referred to as Time of Flight (TOF). The sensors accurately track multiple objects at the same time and produce a 3D image of the space around those objects. Unlike traditional cameras that use visible light to capture details such as colors and facial features, the sensors record only the outline of people, thereby protecting privacy.
For companies in many industries, that means new opportunities to solve a variety of vexing challenges – just like Bond. Let’s examine how 3D-LiDAR IoT solutions can be used across four key sectors: manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and transportation.
3D-LiDAR is creating safer environments for workers. For example, potentially dangerous machinery is traditionally protected by a physical barrier while 3D-LiDAR can establish a virtual barrier. If anyone passes through the virtual barrier of a machine while its operating, an automated warning is issued. Should that worker remain in the machine’s proximity for a designated period, the machine automatically shuts down.
3D-LiDAR can also enhance decision-making, allowing manufacturers to identify the scenarios that promote efficiency, particularly for repeatable actions. For example, it can benchmark an assembly task and then compare a worker’s performance against that benchmark to determine where efficiencies can be gained. Such changes can boost factory efficiency by orders of magnitude.
3D-LiDAR can help answer one of retail's most difficult questions: what do my customers do when they enter my store? Sensors can now detect when someone reaches out to a specific shelf or picks up a product, and it monitors the flow of shoppers, identifies hand height and direction, and measures dwelling time. This helps stores be more strategic and efficient by allocating more staff where needed during busier times and fewer during quieter times. It can also improve the overall retail experience – a critical task as more consumers choose to shop online.
3D-LiDAR also detects abnormal behaviors or suspicious activities, which may prevent losses. By tracking the size and shape of shoppers, 3D-LiDAR can detect when products are being shoplifted. Used in connection with ID cards, 3D-LiDAR detects when unauthorized personnel enter restricted areas of the store and immediately alert security personnel.
3D-LiDAR is making huge inroads into the healthcare industry such as tracking discrete behaviors and optimizing care services and staffing in hospitals. It’s also providing intelligent preventive monitoring to improve care in both public and private facilities. For example, 3D-LiDAR can detect deviations from daily routines which can prevent accidents or injuries, such as when someone falls or is in a dangerous situation.
The technology can also be integrated with real-time edge analytics libraries to improve caregiving over time, and with business analytics platforms to inform decision makers about trends in health and improve efficiencies. To ensure patient privacy, 3D-LiDAR uses sensors instead of traditional cameras to record only the outline of people and objects, not faces or bodies.
To ensure vehicle and passenger safety, and to deliver electronic systems that provide driver assistance, transportation systems must be able to quickly respond to their surrounding environments. 3D-LiDAR technologies play an important role in the safety of these transportations systems and passengers.
It can also be used to capture accidents and ensure traffic flows smoothly when an accident occurs. If a train is supposed to be empty, 3D-LiDAR can detect movement inside the train to alert officials. It can also detect density of individual packages on a train as it passes through a station to validate contents.
Never SayNever Again
A Bond archcriminal might seem unstoppable at first, but nothing seems to be getting in the way of 3D-LiDAR technology to make the world a safer, smarter and more livable place. While these are just a few of the uses for 3D-LiDAR so far, the technology will likely be implemented in a broad range of industries to ensure safety, maximize efficiency and improve business processes.
The good news is: 3D-LiDAR is no longer a fictional technology. The technology is already making a name for itself in several industries – and its future, just like 007’s – seems bright.