With the luxury goods market sagging under the weight of a sluggish economy, some retailers are turning to more surreptitious and rather controversial means of targeting consumers. As Bloomberg reports, several high-end retailers have begun deploying a new mannequin known as the EyeSee. Produced by Italy-based Almax, the EyeSee looks like any other mannequin you’d find in storefronts and window displays. Embedded within, however, is a camera that captures images of passersby, as well as facial-recognition software capable of identifying a customer’s age, gender, and race.
This kind of demographic data presents obvious benefits to retailers, who can use it to cater their product offerings, promotions, and window displays to consumers most likely to make a purchase. One Almax client, for example, launched an entirely new children’s clothing line after the EyeSee revealed that kids comprised the majority of its afternoon clientele, while another hired Chinese-speaking staff after gauging the size of its Asian customer base. But the subtlety of such practices has raised concerns among those who worry that the EyeSee may violate consumer privacy. Unlike similar animatronic dummies adopted in Japan, Almax’s creation doesn’t look notably different from any other static mannequin.