'Creepy' mannequins to 'spy' on shoppers?

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 21, 2012 10:50 hrs

London, Nov 21 (IANS) Mannequins in showrooms will now be fitted with secret cameras to 'spy on shoppers' buying habits.

The camera, concealed behind the 'EyeSee' mannequin's blank gaze, feeds images into facial recognition software that logs the age, gender and race of shoppers.

This information is fed into a computer and is 'aggregated' to offer retailers using the system statistical and contextual information they can use to develop their marketing strategies, the Daily Mail reported.

With growth slowing in the luxury goods industry, the technology taps into retailers' desperation to personalise their offers to reach exceedingly finicky customers.

Benetton has already deployed the dummies equipped with technology adapted from security systems used to identify criminals at airports.

The device is reportedly being marketed by Italian mannequin maker Almax and has already spurred shops into adjusting window displays, floor layouts and promotions.

The manufacturers boast: "From now on you can know how many people enter the store, record what time there is a greater influx of customers (and which type) and see if some areas risk to be overcrowded."

However, privacy campaigners have denounced the system as 'creepy' and said that such surveillance is an instance of profit trumping privacy.

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