Monday, December 3, 2012

Retail Mannequins Spy on You While You Shop

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The next time you shop, take a close look at the mannequins in the store. They may be taking a close look at you, too.
A handful of retailers are employing $5,000 bionic mannequins from Italy’s Almax called EyeSee, that have a camera installed with facial recognition software in its eye socket. The technology allows it to log the gender, age and race of passers-by, according to Bloomberg. Uché Okonkwo, executive director of consultant Luxe Corp., told Bloomberg that the mannequins “could really enhance the shopping experience, the product assortment, and help brands better understand their customers.”
Sure, you could do the same with in-store security cameras, but Almax argues the dummies provide an eye-level view and draws more interaction from customers. Using EyeSee showed one unnamed retailer that kids made up more than half of its afternoon traffic. Acting on that data, the company introduced a kids’ clothing line. Another Almax customer introduced a Chinese-speaking staff by the entrance after the EyeSee dummies showed that one-third of its patrons after 4 p.m. were Asian, according to Almax.
However, adoption for the dummies is stil low: Max Catanese, CEO of Almax, told Bloomberg that five companies are using “a few dozen” of the mannequins though they have more on order. However, at least one U.S. retailer, Nordstrom, told the news service that using facial recognition software in stores crosses privacy boundaries with customers.
Image courtesy of iStockphotomediaphotos