Robotic Mannequins Are Being Used to Spy on Shoppers
If you ever get a creepy feeling that the mannequins in the department store are watching you, you just might be right. Some fashion brands are now using mannequins equipped with technology used to identify criminals at airports to watch shoppers at their stores.
The technology is called EyeSee and was created by Italian mannequin maker Almax Spa. At least five companies are using a handful of these anti-theft products with more on the way.
The EyeSee looks normal on the outside, but inside a camera is inserted into one eye. Using facial recognition software just like the police would use, the camera logs the age, race and gender of shoppers. Critics claim this raises concerns about racial profiling amongst customers, as well as other legal and ethical issues.
However, those who are in favor of the EyeSee mannequins say that not only does it help to stop theft, it also provides important information that will help the company in their marketing campaigns. For example, some of the stores found that men shopped more than women in the first two days of a sale and also that children made up more than half of the afternoon's traffic. Both of these findings led one company to rearrange their window displays in order to attract more shoppers in these two demographics.
Despite the controversy, it will be interesting to see how these mannequins will fare in the future. We're also curious as to whether they come alive at night and dance around with handsome customers. The documentary footage below filmed in 1987 suggests we may be on to something.