The EyeSee, a $5,000 dollar device, is equipped with a camera that reads shoppers’ age, race, sex, using the same facial-recognition technology used by police to identify criminals in airports. Is this legal? At the moment, yes, in part because the camera doesn’t permanently record any of the information it gleans. But is it ethical? That’s a question that remains to be answered, as the data-mining mannequin catches on. So far it’s in use by several unnamed retailers in the U.S. and Europe.
While the technology sounds awful, it’s not exactly predatory. The idea behind the camera-equipped mannequins is to help stores learn more about who their customers are, and their shopping habits, in order to re-arrange displays accordingly and hire employees relevant to consumer demographics. And of course, cameras are already in use as anti-theft devices, though if that’s the case, retailers are required to post a notice to shoppers. No such rule exists, yet, for information-gleaning mannequins.
We wonder if the technology will catch on — after all, equally or more prohibitive than the dubious ethics is the price. In the meantime, would you be opposed to having your age and movements jotted down by a mannequin? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.