InnovationLab demos printed organic sensor ‘smart mat’ for social distancing in retail settings

Automated distance control platform features 8,000 printed sensors

InnovationLab, an expert in printed electronics “from lab to fab,” has announced its innovative “smart mat,” a sensor-based distance-control floor mat that helps to ensure social distancing in retail outlets.

Maintaining distance between both shoppers and cashiers in retail settings has never been more critical. While existing systems monitoring shoppers’ locations and the number of people in a store typically use cameras, such systems are limited by accuracy and privacy issues.

Leveraging InnovationLab’s field-proven capacity to print high-accuracy, high-volume roll-to-roll electronics, the smart mat demonstrator uses a sensor array to control a traffic light-style indicator which detects when a shopper stands on it. In a simple use case, the smart mat displays a red light when a person is standing on the mat, and green when no one is there, signalling that the next customer can proceed.

InnovationLab is now demonstrating its smart mat in a retail store in Heidelberg, Germany.

The intelligent sensor matrix embedded in the smart mat features more than 8,000 individual sensors spaced at 1 cm intervals, which enables differentiation between human steps and the wheels of a grocery cart, for example. In addition to promoting safe social distancing in a retail environment, the smart mat platform could be further customized to analyse in-store traffic. InnovationLab is already working with industry leader SAP, making it easier to integrate the sensor data with existing retail IT systems and gain new insights on customer behaviour.

“While the smart mat serves an important function in reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a retail space, our demonstrator just scratches the surface of InnovationLab’s capabilities in printed electronics,” said Florian Ullrich, Business Developer, InnovationLab.

“By offering a variety of printed sensors, that are flexible, customisable for many uses, and have extremely low power consumption – and are very low cost — we’re opening new classes of applications to sensors for the first time,” said Luat Nguyen, Managing Director, InnovationLab.

“From health and fitness wearables and automotive infotainment systems to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and warehouse management, printed sensors offer manufacturers complete design freedom, an advantage over conventional fabrication methods.”

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