While mannequins are often not very noticeable, soon they could be noticing you – and tracking your shopping habits.
Equipped with facial recognition software, the mannequin’s camera will note the gender, sex and approximate age of shoppers, according to a report by Bloomberg. Differing from overhead cameras, the mannequins can provide ‘eye level’ observations.
About a dozen of the mannequins have been produced with five companies currently using them, mostly in the luxury market in Europe.
“It’s spooky,” said Luca Solca, head of luxury goods research at Exane BNP Paribas in London. “You wouldn’t expect a mannequin to be observing you.”
Some say profiling customers raises legal and ethical issues, even though U.S. and European Union permit the use of cameras for security purposes. Retailers may need to post signs warning customers that they could be filmed for marketing purposes.
“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.