OptiSeats automatically calculates safe sitting distance
Because of corona measures such as social distancing and bubble sizes, many public spaces cannot be fully occupied. Moreover, it is often difficult to judge for yourself how best to set up a room correctly for a certain number of attendees. Flanders Make has therefore developed the free online tool ‘OptiSeats’.
We based the development of this new tool on technology that we’re already using successfully in industrial applications. We use the same algorithms that we already developed for placing components in machines. Through clever adaptations, we can now also use these algorithms for the optimal placement of chairs, tables and objects in a room. Flanders Make offers this simple programme free of charge to support all sectors in this difficult period, and during its development focused primarily on its functionality. As a result, the tool is very flexible and allows to quickly adapt the layout of a room to the latest rules.
The initiative is part of a project of the Flemish Innovation and Entrepreneurship Agency (Vlaio), which aims to use the expertise of our research institutions for tackling a very wide range of societal challenges caused by the corona crisis. Flanders Make takes the lead in this, contributing among others with this in-house technology. With OptiSeats, we help companies and organisations that do not have the time, budget or technical know-how to use other, more complex digital solutions for maintaining the social distancing rules in their rooms. Our tool is therefore user-friendly and easy to operate with its many visual elements.
Flemish Economy and Innovation Minister Hilde Crevits is also enthusiastic: “Innovation is essential to help us return to normal life. The devices to help maintain distance at the workplace have already proved this. OptiSeats is now another example of Flanders Make's clever innovations and a very concrete tool to help, for example, the hospitality and events sector, but also schools, to completely restart their business. In the coming months, we will continue to focus on innovations that can help us to safely return to our normal lives."
OptiSeats uses 4 large blocks that allow you to define your room and organise it optimally: room dimensions, possible obstacles, table types/rows of chairs and group reservations. You can also register so that you can save rooms to work on later. Below, we will discuss all the functionalities of this tool and go into more detail about all the possibilities. You can also re-watch a video of an online session (in Dutch).
The parameters for dividing the room are shown in the left-hand panel. The example of the room can be seen on the right. It is divided into blocks of 1 m². In this way, you can easily estimate your room.
Under 'Room' you can enter the basic data and dimensions. We have defined some standard rooms such as a waiting room, dining room, classroom and theatre, each with their own standard layout. You can also specify a viewing direction here, which is particularly useful when configuring a classroom or theatre layout.
Here, you will be able to enter your 'obstacles' such as entrances and exits, the bar, pillars, walls, etc. You can change or remove obstacles and add extra obstacles or forbidden zones, such as plants, recesses, aisles, etc. Obstacles are shown in red and can be easily moved by dragging them with the mouse.
The room is designed as a standard rectangle. If your room has oblique sides, you can enter this by creating a number of smaller blocks and placing them (approximately) so that they form an oblique wall.
Subsequently, you can enter table types and chairs. The tool offers 2 table types: rectangular and round. After your selection, you can enter the dimensions and indicate the number of chairs per side. You can also enter rows of chairs here, for instance to create a waiting room or theatre layout.
The reservation option allows you to book certain tables that you definitely want to have available. For instance: "I definitely want to have 6 tables for 2 persons and 2 tables for 5 persons". This is a useful feature for the hospitality industry. Note, however, that the tool does not automatically adapt to any new measures. Currently, a distance of one and a half metre between each table is taken into account. You can find the applicable measures via 'measures' at the top right-hand side of the screen.
Once you have defined the room, tables and chairs, you can calculate the optimal seating positions using the "Calculate layout" button at the bottom. You have 3 choices: fast (+/- 15 seconds), efficient (+/- 1 minute) and extensive (+/- 3 minutes). Giving the tool more computing time will optimise the result. You can also download the result as a PDF, so that you can easily share it with others.
We also provide short online sessions to introduce interested parties to OptiSeats. Would you like to organise a sample session for your colleagues? Please contact us and we will look at the possibilities together.
Emma Claeys - Business Developer
Sign up for our newsletter and receive the most interesting articles about innovations in the manufacturing industry and updates about Flanders Make.