You’re Not Paranoid, That Department Store Mannequin Really Is Watching You

Next up: Mannequins that eavesdrop on your conversation (really).

(Sebastian Dooris)

Speaking of holiday shopping, what does your typical retail chain want for Christmas? Some job growth, perhaps, or a rebound in the housing market to spark consumer spending; a digital strategy to keep it competitive in the 21st century. Or how about something more tangible? Like a mannequin with a camera mounted behind one of its eyes that “feeds data into facial-recognition software like that used by police. It logs the age, gender, and race of passers-by.”

According to Bloomberg, Italian mannequin maker Almax is making the dreams of retail tycoons a reality, selling the $5,000 EyeSee to customers in three European companies and the U.S. Before you get your knickers in a twist over the privacy concerns, let’s take note of all the benefits that spying mannequins can bring us:

The mannequin, which went on sale last December and is now being used in three European countries and the U.S., has led one outlet to adjust its window displays after revealing that men who shopped in the first two days of a sale spent more than women, according to Almax.

A clothier introduced a children’s line after the dummy showed that kids made up more than half its mid-afternoon traffic, the company says. Another store found that a third of visitors using one of its doors after 4 p.m. were Asian, prompting it to place Chinese-speaking staff by that entrance.

See—good for everybody. Word that Almax is testing technology that would allow retailers to “eavesdrop on what shoppers say about the mannequin’s attire,” on the other hand, creeps us out entirely.

You’re Not Paranoid, That Department Store Mannequin Really Is Watching You