No one likes a bar that’s too crowded, or for that matter, one that’s too dead. But what if you could pull out your smartphone and see just how jumping your favorite hot spot was before you made your way there? That’s the idea behind Density, a simple little sensor that measures the real-time population of bars, gyms, clubs, cafés, and shops, and then broadcasts them over the internet.
The sensor itself isn’t much more than a break beam sensor, the same kind that elevators and automatic doors use. Place it near an entrance, and when someone passes in front of it, it registers that someone is entering or leaving. It’s not exactly rocket science, but thanks to easy installation and an open developer API, Density has a lot more possibilities.
Using Density, a restaurant could detect, and then broadcast, if there are open tables, or, for that matter, blast coupon codes for free drinks over Twitter if foot traffic was too low. If you want to go to the gym, you could check online if the treadmills are free; if you have the choice of working from home, you could load up an app to see if your office is crowded.
Density is already being used by Requested, an app that allows users to request discounts at popular restaurants when business is slow. It’s also in the wild at Workfrom, a site that gives real-time seating capacity at possible remote working locations, as well as school gyms at U.C. Berkley.
As a noted hater of busy bars and clubs, this is just the kind of sensor I want to catch on, allowing me to gauge the likelihood that my territorial bubble will be pierced before I even leave the house. On the other hand, though, this seems like the kind of thing that would provide a ready excuse to stay in when I shouldn’t. “Oh, the gym has heavy traffic today? Better crack open a beer.”