27.11.12

Mannequins fitted with cameras to track shoppers

AUTHOR: Inavate

Taking consumer tracking creepy-ness to a whole new level fashion brands are deploying mannequins equipped with  camera technology from Almax, an Italian manufacturer of mannequins. The EyeSee mannequin looks normal enough, but includes a camera embedded in one eye which is feeding data into facial recognition software.

The software logs the age, gender and race of passing shoppers. Bloomberg reports that demand for the devices has steadily grown in sync with a slowdown in demand for luxury goods.

“Any software that can help profile people while keeping their identities anonymous is tantastic,” said Uche Okonkwo, executive director of consultant Luxe Corp. It “could really enhance the shopping experience, the product assortment and help brands better understand their customers.”

Similar technology is already deployed using standard security cameras, but they are typically mounted at ceiling height, as opposed to the eye-level view offered Almax’s mannequins.

Whilst Almax isn’t naming clients that are using the technology, it is apparently in use in three European countries and in the USA.

U.S. and European Union regulations permit the use of cameras for security purposes, though retailers need to put up signs in their stores warning customers they may be filmed. Watching people solely for commercial gain may break the rules and could be viewed as gathering personal data without consent, says Christopher Mesnooh, a partner at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse in Paris.