Data to ensure corona-distance in supermarkets

Scientists from SDU, together with Vemco Group, are now creating a visual data overview to help customers in Danish supermarkets keep their distance in the queue. The goal is to limit infection with COVID-19

Our data shows that the most critical time in relation to distance is the moment where customers pick up groceries from the basket and put them on the conveyer belt.

Mikkel Baun Kjærgaard - Professor

We must break the chain of infection, and this must happen quickly.

This is the message from the public authorities. Professor Mikkel Baun Kjærgaard from the Software Engineering department at the University of Southern Denmark is now creating a solution which will help break that chain.

– We know from the authorities that the queues in supermarkets are a critical place with regards to contagion. As a researcher, I am used to working with data from buildings and people’s movements.

– It suddenly struck me that if we can give people a live visual view of how close they are to each other in the lines, we might make them keep even more distance to one another, Mikkel Baun Kjærgaard says

He, therefore, grabbed the phone Monday and called Anel Turkanocic, CEO of Vemco Group, who delivers sensor technology and customer counter devices to supermarkets. 


Few may know, but there are already sensors in supermarket ceilings of supermarkets from Vemco Group.They register how customers move around in the store.

– The supermarkets use this type of data to improve the customer shopping experience. For example, by attempting to predict when there is a need for opening another check-out, explains Anel Turkanovic.

The technology can also register how customers are positioned in relation to each other. While talking, Mikkel Baun Kjærgaard and Anel Turkanovic quickly discovered a solution.

Sensor technology can be used to measure the distance between customers, and these data can then be analysed and presented in real-time on a screen at the cash register.

For example, through green and red smileys that immediately shows if you stand too close to a fellow citizen.


The system has already been tested in a leading Danish supermarket chain this week. It is now to be fine-tuned by the programmers, before instalment in stores by early April.

– Our data shows that the most critical time in relation to distance is the moment where customers pick up groceries from the basket and put them on the conveyer belt. Hopefully, our solution can remind people to keep a distance so that we can break the chain of infection in time, says Mikkel Baun Kjærgaard.

– Test data also shows that the new guidelines introduced in stores this week have increased the distance between customers. Thus, the data can also be used to measure the effect of new signage and rules, he stated.


At Vemco Group, Anel Turkanovic appreciates the opportunities that the cooperation with SDU and the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute gives.

– It is rewarding for us to collaborate so closely with a university. It gives us a unique opportunity to test new technologies. In connection to corona, it is simply fantastic to be able to contribute with new initiatives that support the authorities’ recommendations.

-Hopefully, we can all soon return to a normal functioning everyday life, concludes Anel Turkanovic.