3D camera-based system allows hotel guests to monitor crowd conditions from their rooms(客室で混雑確認 温泉旅館に3Dカメラ)

An image of screens that allow guests at a hot spring inn to check the level of crowding in public areas while still in their rooms.(温泉旅館の各施設の混雑状況を部屋にいながら確認できる画面のイメージ)

 In a bid to help guests at hot spring inns avoid crowded areas and thereby prevent infections with the novel coronavirus, a system has been developed in which 3D cameras allow guests to monitor crowding from their rooms.
 "We want to help support hot spring inns suffering from the coronavirus pandemic," an official of the development company said.
 The system was developed by Aizu Computer Science Laboratories, Inc., in Aizu-wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture. The lab is headed by Masayuki Hisada, 45, a member of the first class at the University of Aizu, which opened in 1993 and specializes in computer science and engineering.
 "I would like for people to visit hot spring inns with peace of mind" thanks to this system, Hisada said.


 In the system, 3D cameras are installed in places that could become crowded with guests, such as a restaurant or a lobby, to find out how many people are there at any given time, the distances between people, and the number of people going in and out. The system then uses artificial intelligence to determine the level of crowding.
 Since it does not use infrared rays, it can also be used outside and in other locations where strong sun rays are present.
 As for a public bath in an inn, 3D cameras installed at the entrance will evaluate how many guests are going in and out to determine whether the bath is crowded.
 The number of people is shown on a TV screen in guest rooms along with video feed. When the number of people exceeds a certain level, the word "crowded" will be displayed.


 Another feature is the ability to display people as outlines or replace them with specific characters to prevent identification. Outlines are normally displayed in green, but as people get closer to each other, they turn red, and an automated voice will alert those who are too close to one another.
 The installation cost of the system is several hundreds of thousands of yen. Aizu Computer Science Laboratories is exploring ways to reduce burdens on inns, however, such as exploring the possibility of a subsidy.


 Many hot spring inns in the prefecture now limit the number of guests to prevent crowded and close-contact settings. Harataki Konjakutei in the Higashiyama Onsen hot spring resort in Aizu-wakamatsu now only accepts 50% of the capacity of its guest rooms.
 "We must come up with a mechanism that encourages guests to use facilities in inns at different times," said Harataki Konjakutei general manager Shigemi Hiraga, who is also deputy chairman of the Higashiyama Onsen Tourism Association.
 "That would usher us into a new era of coexisting with the novel coronavirus," Hiraga said.

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2020年7月20日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】