Big Brother Mannequins Are Watching You

11.20.12 Andy Cush

An Italian company recently released a mannequin that’s capable of capturing images of and logging demographic information about the customers in any retail store. The mannequin, called the EyeSee, is equipped facial recognition software and a camera embedded in one of its eyes. And don’t think this is just some Orwellian fantasy: the EyeSee is already being employed by five luxury brands, including Bennetton, in the U.S. and Europe.

The data collected is extremely valuable to retailers, as it allows them to make decisions based on customers’ demographic makeup. One retailer added an entire children’s department after learning after realizing how many kids came through their store, Bloomberg reports, and another added Chinese-speaking workers.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone is pleased about this advancement in department-store data-collection. Christopher Mensooh, a lawyer at Paris’s Field Fisher Waterhouse, believes using EyeSee could constitute gathering personal data without consent. “If you go on Facebook, before you start the registration process, you can see exactly what information they are going to collect and what they’re going to do with it,” he said. “If you’re walking into a store, where’s the choice?”

And this is only the beginning. Aramax says its next move is to test speech recognition software, so the dummies can hear as well as they see.

(Photo: Manuel W./Flickr)