Two Irish companies have come up with a new tech system to help shops control the number of people safely entering at any one time.
The joint venture between Redtech and Tapadoo counts those entering and exiting a shop, displaying the count live on a screen.
The equipment could help retailers that are trying to cope with advisory rules on how many people to let in to a premises while still observing safety measures to protect staff and other shoppers from viral infection.
The technology is based on laser scanning as opposed to cameras, meaning that it does not capture personal identities in the way that CCTV cameras do.
If a shop's count goes over the allowed occupancy level, the screen changes colour.
It is currently being trialled in a SuperValu store in Ratoath, Co Meath. RedTech supplies people-counting devices to event organisers. Its technology was used during the Pope's visit to Dublin in 2018. Tapadoo is a long-standing Dublin-based mobile app development company.
Redtech supplies and installs the sensor and networking equipment. The sensors are connected online using a dedicated router managed by the company.
As people enter or exit the store, events are relayed to a server operated by Tapadoo, which maintains the count and relays it back to connected clients. If the occupancy goes above the preferred level, this is highlighted in the web pages or apps. The service also supports a similar notice system within a staff app, in case the retailer prefers to physically man the entrance instead.
The move comes as retailers wait for further formal advice from health authorities on the duration and intensity of Ireland's current lockdown status.
Government sources have suggested that Ireland may be in for a longer lockdown period, possibly lasting for most of April.