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Spooky' Mannequins Outfitted With Facial Recognition Cameras Spy on Shoppers


"Watching people solely for commercial gain may break the rules and could be viewed as gathering personal data without consent..."

Store employees and traditional security cameras might not be the only ones watching you while you shop. According to a report by Bloomberg, mannequins with cameras in their eyes will start tracking shoppers' movements in some stores in order to improve layout and targeted marketing.

Bloomberg reported that the slightly more than $5,000 EyeSee mannequins by the Italian company Almax have cameras behind their eyes that use software to record stats like gender, race and approximate age using facial recognition technology.

EyeSee mannequin by Alamax. (Image: Alamax, translated by Google)

Luca Solca, the head of luxury goods research at the London-based Exane BNP Paribas, told Bloomberg the technology -- and the fact that it was embedded in a mannequin -- is "spooky." Nordstrom spokesman Colin Johnson expressed that this sort of technology pushes the issue of respect for customer's boundaries.

On the other hand, Uché Okonkwo, executive director of consultant Luxe Corp, said to Bloomberg that it could help companies understand customers and "enhance the shopping experience." Here are a couple examples about how the technology has been helpful to stores already:

A clothier introduced a children’s line after the dummy showed that kids made up more than half its mid-afternoon traffic, the company says. Another store found that a third of visitors using one of its doors after 4 p.m. were Asian, prompting it to place Chinese-speaking staff by that entrance.

It's not without its legal issues though. Here's more from Bloomberg:

U.S. and European Union regulations permit the use of cameras for security purposes, though retailers need to put up signs in their stores warning customers they may be filmed. Watching people solely for commercial gain may break the rules and could be viewed as gathering personal data without consent, says Christopher Mesnooh, a partner at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse in Paris.

The mannequins are currently being used in a few European countries and the United States. A store you might be familiar with that purchased some of the technology, according to the New York Daily News, is United Colors of Benetton. But the clothier isn't sharing with the Daily News or Bloomberg what it hopes to gain from the mannequins.

Bloomberg also noted that the company is testing "hearing" technology that would let the mannequins pick up on key phrases from customers as well.

Watch Bloomberg's report on the mannequins:

Read more about the technology and its uses in Bloomberg's profile here.

Featured image via Shutterstock.com. 

(H/T: Business Insider)

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