The huge success of online shopping and advertising—led by giants like Amazon and Google—is in no small part thanks to software that logs when you visit Web pages and what you click on. Startup Prism Skylabs offers brick-and-mortar businesses the equivalent—counting, logging, and tracking people in a store, coffee shop, or gym with software that works with video from security cameras.

"There's a lot of wonderful information locked up in video, and 40 million security cameras in the U.S. collecting it, but it's data that's not been available," says Steve Russell, cofounder and CEO of Prism, based in San Francisco. "We want to free up that information."

Prism's software can count people that come into a business, measure the length of the line at checkout, and produce static or animated visualizations showing how people moved around a store. It is designed so that it cannot identify or track individuals. One national wireless carrier is already using Prism's technology to generate heat maps of where visitors go in their showrooms, to compare the level of interest in different devices—valuable data to them and to the device makers...