People who don’t want to use a car but still be mobile use taxis or short-range transit. The demand, routes, and vehicle capacities, among other things, need to be planned in order for this short-range transit to meet passengers’ expectations and requirements. In order to do this, traffic planners are using modern technology for counting passengers:
the Berlin-based iris-GmbH develops and supplies this technology.
Every new idea has a beginning: The idea for launching iris-GmbH originated with a team of five physicists, one chemist, and four engineers. In 1991, they established iris-GmbH infrared & intelligent sensors to develop and produce new systems and applications of optoelectronics. Their expert knowledge comes from a plant for broadcast electronics in Oberschoeneweide, in the research area of optoelectronics. One question in particular drives them: how can optoelectronics be used for the traffic industry? Their quest for answers is not limited to their own company.
Every interesting idea needs partners: The two managers, Andreas Thun and Dr. André Haufe took a look around in the telematics branch and had conversations with the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG). It was quickly concluded that there is a huge demand for a new and precise technology independent of any manual process. How many people are on a bus? How can the number of passengers be recorded – without the hitherto used light barriers, foot mats or weight measurements? How can passengers be counted per capita? How are the gathered data to be evaluated?
Through the BVG, contacts were made with companies developing and producing on-board computers. Two years of research and development – financed with equity, the Berlin Program to promote Research, Innovation and Technology, and the Deutsche Ausgleichsbank – led to the first passenger-counting system in 1994. The iris-GmbH benefited from the market launch of low-floor buses, for which it has developed and produced the first generation of sensors. These sensors count the passengers’ heads and were installed overhead in the panels above the doors. The gathered data were forwarded to the newly developed, computer-aided dispatch systems to be evaluated. The first generation of iris systems were applied in 1994 in Trier, Freiburg and Wuerzburg.
Every market-ready idea leads to new products: In the meantime, the fifth generation of passenger and people counting systems for mobile and stationary counting have been developed and applied. The system of IRMA MATRIX is a new and revolutionary product with a high-precision counting accuracy. A sensor matrix with 500 pixels measures the distance to the object and captures it in 3-D. This is made possible with the innovative Time-of-Flight (ToF) technology, which measures with speed of light. Added to this new development are the established IRMA counting systems IRMA BASIC and IRMA 3D for mobile and stationary passenger counting.
Worldwide, over 90,000 IRMA counting systems have been sold and installed in more than 25,000 vehicles. The counting accuracy of the new devices stands at over 98 percent. The requirement for durability of the iris systems is over 10 years for buses and over 25 for train applications. Proven concepts, innovative technologies, and highest reliability are standards for the iris products.
The technological core of the company consists of the areas of lithography, chip bonding, software development, assembly and development of sophisticated survey, and testing apparatuses. The technologies are continuously improved because there is an increasing demand for counting. To meet these demands, iris-GmbH cooperates closely with research partners nationally and internationally, including the Technical University Berlin, the Humboldt University Berlin, the Fachhochschule Brandenburg, the OUT e. V. Berlin and the CESM in Switzerland.
Every viable idea opens up new markets: 25 years ago, when the founders of iris-GmbH developed and implemented the idea of digital passenger counting, they had no idea they were creating a new market. Their counting systems are utilized, among other places, in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Milan, Naples, Amsterdam, Montreal, Vienna, Salzburg, Gøteborg, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston and Sao Paulo. At this point, Automatic Passenger Counting is standard for all transportation companies. The iris-GmbH systems are worldwide leaders in passenger counting. Transportation companies appreciate the product quality, the unique customer service, and the iris-GmbH tradition.
Every innovative idea requires a suitable location: For 25 years now, iris-GmbH has been researching, developing, and producing their products in Berlin-Oberschoeneweide on Ostendstrasse. On this street and on Wilhelminenhofstrasse, Emil Rathenau, founder of the “Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft” (AEG), started building important factories in 1890, including the electric company “Oberspree”, a cable-manufacturing plant with an associated copper rolling mill, rubber factory and wire mill, a brass rolling mill, and the German Niles factories for machine tool building.
In 1901, the “Neue Automobil GmbH” (N.A.G.), after 1915 the Nationale Automobil Gesellschaft, moved into a building of the cable-manufacturing plant. In 1914, a new factory building of the N.A.G. was erected on Ostendstrasse 1 – 5 according to plans by Peter Behrens. Since 1907, the industrial architect and pioneer of industrial design has been the “artistic advisor” of AEG. He develops today’s AEG logo, leaflets, the design of AEG household appliances as well as factory, administrative, and apartment buildings. Nowadays, the Peter-Behrens-Haus serves as a teaching building for students and the home for small businesses such as iris-GmbH.
Every interesting idea needs a creative environment: Every interesting idea needs a creative environment. In the fall of 2006, the design department of the “Fachhochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft” (FHTW) moved into the modernized buildings on the former grounds of the AEG cable-manufacturing plant on Wilhelminenhofstrasse. Other fields, such as Engineering, Applied Computer Science, International Media Informatics, Business Communication Management, and Business Administration
and Engineering followed suit. In 2009, the FHTW became “htw Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft”. This move was a clear signal for the traditional industrial base Oberschoeneweide. Will future htw-graduates influence the next generation of iris counting systems? Will students of Industrial Design come up with new forms for iris counting systems?