Interviews

Interview with Tom Bell, Irisys’ marketing executive

Tom Bell

This month we interview Tom Bell, marketing and communication manager for Irisys, a British company founded in 1996 by a small group of scientists and engineers, today leader in the market of point-of-sale technologies.

TC Group Solutions uses Irisys’ technologies to help clients improve their business performances and store’s results. In this interview, Tom will introduce us to the Vector 4D and his unique multiple functions.

  1. Hi Tom! Nice to meet you! Could you tell us about your company and your role in it?

Irisys are one of the world’s leading people counting device manufacturers. We have a company history going back over 20 years, so we have a lot of experience in this area! Our in house research and development team are passionate about designing the best and most accurate devices possible, and I think this really shows in our latest product, the Vector 4D.

My role at Irisys is in the Marketing Department. Amongst other things, I organise our attendance at events and exhibitions, I look after our website, and I get to speak to our customers and partners, making sure they are aware of our new developments and getting feedback on our current products.

  1. Could you tell us about Irisys’s technologies?

Our people counting devices use one of two different technologies. Our Gazelle devices use thermal sensors to detect people via body heat, and our new Vector 4D device uses infrared time of flight sensors.

  1. Can you explain why is data collection is so important for a retailer?

Data collection is extremely important for any business, but especially retail. By collecting data about how customers use your store, you are able to make changes to improve their experience. This can increase the amount they spend and even reduce your own costs by optimising staffing.

Without this data, you are effectively blind. Important decisions about the operation of your store should be made on hard data and facts, not anecdotal evidence or hearsay.

  1. Let’s get into more detail about Vector 4D. Can you introduce it and explain how it’s different from other sensors?

Vector 4D is our latest product. It has been developed based on feedback from customers and it is currently the most accurate people counter on the market – it has a count accuracy in excess of 99%. We conducted real world tests, in real shops over a period of time to confirm this figure it is correct.

The Vector 4D doesn’t just have an impressive accuracy, the Vector 4D also has an impressive list of features that set it apart from the competition:

  • Staff detection – using simple lanyards, we can detect members of staff. This means we can remove them from count data or even count them specifically.
  • Dwell time monitoring – as well as counting how many people enter an area, we can also measure how long they spend in that area. This adds a new layer to the level of retail analytics it is possible to collect, such as measuring the effectiveness of product displays and advertising.
  • Multi-unit support – up to 32 devices can be easily connected together to cover large openings or even entire stores. Clever AI and algorithms on the device ensure that people do not get double counted or lost when they move between device fields of view.
  • Anonymity – the Vector 4D does not use cameras to track peoples movements; instead it uses infrared time of flight. The sensor is not able to personally identify anyone; it only knows there is a person present.
  1. What is infrared time of flight and how does this increase the accuracy of the counting system?

Time of Flight is one of the most advanced pieces of technology available in the people counting market today; however the way it works is actually quite simple. A ceiling mounted Vector 4D device emits invisible pulses of infrared light, these reflect off the floor, people and scene beneath it, back up to the device. A sensor on the device captures the reflected infrared light and clever algorithms interpret this to count people.

This method of people counting is highly accurate as it works in all light levels – it has no problem with bright sunshine, shadows, or even total darkness. These are issues that commonly affect the data accuracy of other people counting technologies.

  1. The new Vector 4D sensors can detect staff. What´s the implications do you think this has in improving the data collected?

Yes, the Vector 4D can detect staff members and our solution for this is extremely simple. Staff members wear a simple lanyard made from a special material and our system does the rest. No Bluetooth beacons, no RFID tags, no complicated set up.

The implications of this staff detection feature are immense.

At a very simple level, the count data collected will be more accurate as staff movements can be ignored by sensors. This ensures you only report and make decisions based on customer data. It will be particularly useful in stores with low customer footfall but high staff movement, such as jewellery stores, mobile phone shops or car showrooms.

And at a move advanced level, being able to detect staff members means we are able to collect new retail metrics about staff and customer interactions, such as how long the customer has to wait for service and how long the interaction lasted. Both of these have a direct impact on a customer’s experience of a store, so by measuring and analysing, you can generate actionable insights to improve them.

  1. Why retailers should choose the Vector 4D?

Retailers should choose the Vector 4D as it is more than just a highly accurate people counting device. It is a tool that can help retailers understand not just how a customer uses their store, but how that customer experiences their store and how they interact with it and with staff members. In a world where endless retail metrics are collected by online stores, isn’t it time retailers collect the same from their physical stores?

Thanks to this unique device, TC Group is able to offer its clients a premium service and real data based on the performances of their stores and the interactions with customers.

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