The restart is underway, and as stores reopen, retailers must ensure customers and employees maintain adequate social distancing. To help track and manage those efforts, startup Voxel51’s platform can monitor in-store traffic and identify when locations are busy. The company’s metric, referred to as the physical distancing index, uses video feeds and computer vision modeling to reflect the amount of human activity in a particular location over time.

Jason Corso, co-founder and CEO of the technology firm, says physical distance measurement wasn’t on the radar before COVID-19. “Our vision as a company is to be the video platform where people go to rapidly build applications that need image and video capabilities,” he says.

When the pandemic hit and people began staying home, the team at Voxel51 looked for opportunities to help those around them. Corso says the initial goal of building a physical distancing engine to sit atop the core underlying platform was to provide better public awareness. “It was a tool to give people information that they’re not alone.” An analysis of human traffic patterns in various city hubs provided early insight into the pandemic’s social impact.

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