Your iPhone can help you find a good brunch place, with reviews on Yelp that indicate a restaurant’s best dishes. But there really isn’t any real-time help, except maybe calling or taking your chances and just showing up, to find out if you and your friends can get a table at a local hot spot.
A company called Density has developed a door-frame sensor that monitors the coming and going of people and then reports to an iPhone app whether your favorite place is full. It collects data on people’s movement at various hours of the day and recommends windows of time when you can get right in.
Last Tuesday, Google also introduced a feature that would help people avoid busy times at their favorite places. Location cards in Google search now have a “popular time” section.
With Density, the benefits are just as great for the businesses. It can track customer flow that can help business managers determine how best to do certain tasks, like staffing and ordering. There is even an option for businesses to offer discounts during slow periods of a day.
Density could work with other platforms. One whose clients currently use Density is WorkFrom, which measures seating capacity in popular places for people who work remotely. Another is Requested, a company out of California which automatically sends out discounts to drive customers to businesses, like restaurants, when foot traffic is slow.
Density co-founder Andrew Farah told Fortune magazine in May that he got the idea from showing up to his favorite coffee shop in Syracuse, NY, which could be slammed with customers one minute and dead the next. When he built the app, he talked the coffee shop into installing the sensor at the door and the cafe owner was thrilled to know he could communicate with regular customers when business was slow.
“We help other companies distribute our sensor and build apps around the resulting data,” Farah told Cult of Mac. “POS, loyalty, and directory startups are good examples of potential buyers, companies that serve large networks of SMBs – coffee shops, bars, gyms, etc.
“Density was publicly released 25 days ago. Since then, we’ve heard from non-profits, transit systems, Fortune 500s, rec centers, airlines, and city governments. Seems counting people was hard for a lot of people which might mean that Density is participating in a much larger market.”
Density offers free hardware and software to companies with a monthly service fee of $25. The app is free at the iTunes store.