The new $5000 EyeSee mannequins contain cameras in their eyes that are connected to facial recognition software that analyzes customers’ faces, classifying them by age, sex, race, and ethnicity. The cameras also, according to a company press release, can tell merchandisers when the store is getting crowded, and what products or clothing are attracting the most attention.
The primary goal of the seeing-eye mannequins is to retailers maximize sales by finding ways to improve product and window displays.
According to Almax, privacy is not an issue, as analyzed pictures are not saved or transmitted, so shopper data is simply aggregated without a record of specific individuals. Bloomberg says the high-tech mannequins are currently being used in three European countries as well as the U.S., and have already led store managers to revise marketing practices after learning that men who shopped early in a sale spent more than women.
(That may not be a shock to most wives, since some men — OK, yours truly — are horrible shoppers when it comes to getting good deals.)
The facial recognition technology was developed by Italian company Kee Square, a spinoff from the Polytechnical University of Milan. According to its website, Kee Square develops, integrates, and customizes biometrics products for law enforcement agencies and businesses.
The question, I guess, is whether we want our dummies looking back at us, and whether we believe that any collected data will be used, managed, and disposed of responsibly. Many stores, of course, already use sophisticated video surveillance.
But there is definitely something just a little bit creepier about dummies, mannequins, and doppelgängers looking back at us.
Image credits: Almax