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Culture & Religion

No, Really: That Mannequin IS Watching You

Currently in use at five companies across the US and Europe: Mannequins equipped with a camera that sends data to a facial-recognition program.

What’s the Latest Development?

Just in time for the holiday shopping frenzy comes news that five major fashion brands in Europe and the US are using the EyeSee, which looks like a regular mannequin on the outside but contains a camera on the inside that sends data to facial recognition software. That software records the age, gender, and race of people passing by. Almax, the EyeSee’s Italy-based manufacturer, says that the device is better than overhead security cameras because “it stands at eye level and invites customer attention.” Only Benetton was willing to admit it was using the device, but a spokesperson wouldn’t confirm where.

What’s the Big Idea?

Having direct input from passersby seems to be helping retailers adjust their displays accordingly; one did so after data collected during a sale showed that men spent more than women. Of course, observing people without their being aware of it raises some ethical and legal issues, but so long as signs are displayed warning customers they may be filmed, the EyeSee is legally considered as just another video security device. That said, Almax is currently testing technology that will give the mannequins the ability to hear, and plans to add screens next to them that will display customized advertising.

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