Should mannequins be used as surveillance equipment?
If you’re one of those people who finds mannequins creepy, well, you might want to start cutting down on your shopping. That’s because some retailers, particularly luxury fashion brands, are starting to use mannequins equipped with cameras in their stores.
The mannequins look normal (or as normal as a mannequin can appear, at least), but have a camera located in one of their eyes which draws upon technology currently used at airports to identify criminals. The mannequins can thus determine the race, age and ethnicity of shoppers, and that information would then be used by companies to better tailor their in-store experiences to customers. The dummies are already being used in Europe and America and seem to be paying off, but some retailers are taking a stand against the specialized mannequins. Nordstrom, citing customer boundaries, refuses to install such technology in its stores, although they have set up WiFi and introduced iPads for shopping engagement.
Where is the line exactly on this issue? Would you shop at a location if you thought a mannequin was watching? What’s the difference between this and a security camera? How are the issues of privacy and legality addressed by the manufacturer and retailers which use this technology?
Max Catanese, CEO of Almax Italy, which manufactures the smart mannequins as well as standard store displays.