What is the difference between occupancy sensor and desk sensor?

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This blog is part of our ‘Sensors 101’ series for workplace teams.

Much like the difference between a people counter and an occupancy sensor, desk sensors don’t have much in common with workplace sensors other than the fact that they collect specific data about usage. Whereas occupancy sensors tend to have much more broader functionality and data-collection capabilities, desk sensors are built for a specific purpose. 

Desk sensors use technology that detects body heat and movement. That means even workers who appear to be sitting completely still to the naked eye, the desk sensor can still register that a human is at the desk. 

Their purpose is quite simple: desk sensors can measure the occupancy rate of a desk with almost 100% certainty, and the data they collect provides businesses with an accurate understanding of how much certain desks are being used and for how long. This can help provide an overview of desk usage, but it can also be deployed as part of a space booking or hoteling strategy, where employees can see which desks are currently occupied and which are free.

Occupancy sensors, on the other hand, offer a much more diverse data experience. They can also use different technologies to recognise whether a human is at a specific desk – especially sensors that use up-to-the-second live data capture. This will provide the same overview as a desk sensor but with a far broader scope. 

What makes a workplace occupancy sensor the smarter option is that it will provide additional insights that a desk sensor can’t pick up. That includes information on how people are moving around a space, how long multiple people spend in proximity to each other, whether breakout rooms or collaboration spaces are being utilized, as well as showing which rooms are currently occupied and which are empty – rather than only showing whether a human is at a desk.

Importantly, when you’re comparing roll-out costs of desk sensors versus ceiling-mounted occupancy sensors, it’s important to remember that you will need to buy and maintain a sensor per desk. For a 20,000-seat organization, desk sensors can become prohibitively expensive very quickly.

When you compare that to a wide-coverage ceiling-mounted occupancy sensor solution such as XY Sense, which can provide coverage of 1,000ft (line of sight) or up to 20 desks per sensor, both the data and cost benefits become clear.

To learn more about XY Sense, download our solution brief or a book a demo with our team.

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