Mannequin Eyes Are Watching You
See that pretty mannequin in that window there? Is she spying on me?
It’s something out of Scooby Doo or a Sci-Fi Flick. You can feel eyes watching you, but you can’t see anyone watching you. What’s going on? Is it just your imagination? Well if you’re shopping in a department store is equipped with an Almax mannequin, it’s probably not in your head.
The Almax website tells potential buyers the benefits of their high tech mannequins. Not only do the display your goods in the best possible light, but they also keep an eye on your customers.
What Do These Mannequins Do?
The mannequins are equipped with special cameras connected to a computer inside the mannequins head. The computer contains facial recognition software, as well as, audio and video recording capabilities.
The mannequin records shopping patterns of the customers in the store. It reports what shoppers are attracted to and how long they spent browsing certain items. That is useful information for a store owner to have. Boosting retail sales should be a cinch with this kind of statistical information stored inside the store mannequin.
But these mannequins do more than just record shopping patterns. The facial recognition software used gives an in-depth analysis of the people shopping inside the store. The software reports back gender, age range and race of the individual shoppers in the store.
Once the mannequin's software recognizes that the shopper is a man or a woman, it can swap out an ad at a nearby monitor to attract said customer.
Fast Money on EyeSee Mannequins
Invasion of Privacy
Retail establishments may see this as the opportunity of a lifetime. Real time data on who shopped in their store at what time of day. There is so many ways in which this data could truly streamline the retail industry.
While some retailers rejoice, shoppers may be feeling as though enough is enough. Shopper are already subjected to the cameras watching them as they move through the store for security purposes. While these are cameras are legal, as long as there is posted notification that surveillance is being used on the premises, there are shoppers who feel this is an invasion of their privacy.
Time will tell whether this mannequin delves too far into the privacy of the shopper. It's possible these mannequins will raise legal wranglings about whether or not you have chosen to be watched. Furthermore, is the data from the facial recognition and audio data being disposed of properly? Is it being stored for later use? And if the mannequin has a shoplifter on tape, would they really destroy the evidence to save the privacy of the rest of the shoppers?
Privately-owned, Almax S.p.a, based in Mariano Comense, Italy, creates mannequins and other retail display pieces.
Max Catanese, CEO of Almax, stated over several interviews that no facial recognition or audio data is stored. It is strictly used to create statistical data.
With a swanky price tag of more than $5,000, which is 10 times the cost of your average mannequin, you are unlikely to see this mannequin in your local department store. In fact, these mannequins are being used primarily in Europe.
While they may not have invaded the other side of the pond yet, you can bet a mannequin will be seeing you real soon in a high-end retail shop near you.