Ocucon has just featured in a piece filmed at Aldi’s Goldthorpe store in Rotherham by ‘Click’, the BBC’s flagship technology programme, which streams across five BBC channels, including iPlayer, and covers the latest developments in global technology.

The piece focuses on Occupi, an occupancy control system developed by Ocucon in the wake of COVID-19, following an approach from Aldi to see if it was possible to develop a solution that managed customer numbers in line with government social distancing guidelines. Ocucon’s CEO commented, ‘COVID-19 gave us the impetus to work collaboratively and innovatively and in record time, from concept to delivery it took less than three weeks’.

Ocucon are fortunate to have a client in Aldi who asked for help and lucky enough to have the technological expertise and partners to help deliver what is a truly ground-breaking solution. The system was trialled for 30-days, which proved to be hugely successful, delivering 15.6% increase in productivity along with an increase in sales of 10-15%. It also eliminated costs relating to door marshals that were required to work shift patterns to staff store entry and exit points. This led to rollout across Aldi’s UK network of stores.

Occupi is an intelligent occupancy management system that allows retailers to remotely monitor and manage the flow of shoppers in and out of their stores through coordination of signage, lights, CCTV, and automatic door systems. It offers an extremely reliable and accurate solution which as a result creates significant operational efficiencies. Developed in collaboration with Aldi, they were the first major retailer to introduce the so-called ‘traffic light system’, which attracted widespread coverage by the press upon its release.

Occupi’s algorithms adapt to consider the uniqueness of each retail space and it can allow batch or group access and time spaced door entry in order to effectively manage social distancing requirements in-store. For example, when a shop opens in the morning, it can prevent everyone rushing in at once, as this would cause crowding in the first aisle. The system allows for setup wherein it only lets a group of 5 people in at a time before locking for 1 minute to ensure a good and safe flow of people. This only disables the sensor on the outside of the entrance door and all other door operations are retained, for example fire escapes, manual opening and so on.

The software, developed by Ocucon, constantly compares pre-programmed total occupancy limits with actual door entry and exit numbers and utilises deep learning technology, which it uses to identify and compensate for any margin of error. Altogether, this innovative system creates a safe shopping environment for customers whilst creating significant savings for the retailer thanks to the increased operational efficiencies.

Ocucon continues to work closely with Aldi and other customers to ensure that the Occupi system is responsive to customer needs and can adapt to the changing world in which we are all operating through incorporating new features. For example, Ocucon and Aldi are currently working with the RNIB to trial audio prompts at the supermarket’s Goldthorpe store, to help make the shopping experience easier for visually impaired customers. However, for any new technology to be introduced successfully it needs to be thoroughly tested prior to widespread deployment, so as to ensure that it enrichens the experience of those that it is designed to help and is therefore beneficial for them. 

To see Ocucon’s feature on BBC Click, view it on our YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/et30BPyS_Ms