Forget the Rise of the Machines — the mannequins are spying on you!  Now, as you shop, you have non-human orbs watching you from afar and evaluating your every move.  Don’t look now, but the empty stares flirting around you are committing you to memory!

Fashion brands are deploying mannequins equipped with technology used to identify criminals at airports to watch over shoppers in their stores. Retailers are introducing the EyeSee, sold by Italian mannequin maker Almax SpA, to glean data on customers much as online merchants are able to do.

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.

I find it a little creepy that the stores feel the need to employ mannequins in order to do their due diligence when it comes to evaluating customer behavior.  Shopkeepers of yore used to know their customers.  They would interact with them.  They learned how to comprehend needs and wants and wishes and, of course, fulfill them — but all for the right price.

That human touch has been lost in the expansion of technology and mechanics in our current codified and commoditized shopping experience.  We are now numbers and digits on a loyalty card and our patterns and behaviors are manipulated and anticipated.  The business owner today knows what we’re going to do before we do it — and that cynical sort of inhuman-handiness makes for a sour and sterile shopping experience.

I would love to create an anti-mannequin that I could use to peruse stores that would block the false purview of those hoping to evaluate me.  Perhaps a full-body mirror would create the proper Daliesque response, but maybe clothing that makes me disappear would be a better tactic.

10 Comments

  1. I am reminded of the episode of The Twilight Zone where a woman discovers that she is actually a mannequin and that, like every other mannequin in the store she visits, she is able to take a vacation once in awhile and be human for a month — only that she is meant to come back after the month is over and not forget who she really is!

    A small part of me likes this, whereas most of me would rather more businesses be like the Starbucks I frequent on Fridays, where they already know the drink I am going to order as I walk in the door and know how my wife likes her hot and cold lattes! 🙂

    1. I remember that Twilight Zone episode, Gordon! It was excellent.

      You remind me of an “I Dream of Jeanie” episode I watched over the weekend on WLNY — they were having a marathon. She was finally getting married, but Genies cannot be photographed, and that was a wedding concern. So, when she walked down the aisle to marry Tony, she blinked herself into a walking mannequin! It was both creepy and hilarious and Barbara Eden played both real Jeanie and the mannequin! Fun stuff!

      I agree being recognized as a regular customer is wonderful. I walk into my Dunkin Donuts, and before the door closes behind me, I have “Two large iced teas, lemon, no sugar, little bit of ice” in my hand. It takes me longer to pay than to get my drinks. In and out and done!

  2. It’s true technology is taking over. I also find it interesting that stores already have cameras and we know that they are there and that they are watching us. If you never would have told me about the mannequins I probably never would have noticed. Now that I do know, however, I kind of want to wave my hand in front of the next mannequin I see.

    1. What concerns me is cameras we cannot see. I like the eye in the ceiling staring at us like a bug, but hiding the things that watch us is a scary thought — not because we’re doing anything wrong — but that we can no longer pretend we have any sort of privacy anywhere.

      1. That’s so true. I wonder how unconfortable people would be if they new about these motionless watchers. It kind of reminds me of the criminals Batman sends away. They never know he’s there until he swoops in and “saves the night”. I feel like these cameras are going to “save us” from a real shopping experience. Everything will be perfect and leave no room for human interaction anymore. Soon we’ll be asked, “Did you find everything okay?” Obviously! You knew what I wanted before I even got a chance to walk through the door. You took the shopping out of shopping and just handed it to me on a platter.

          1. Oh, I think online shopping is even more intrusive than shopping in person! The websites follow your mouse and anticipate what you’ll buy and when. In person shopping offers slightly more anonymity — right now, anyway — especially if you pay with cash.

    1. Love that link, Nicola, thanks! I’m sure glasses like that will quickly be outlawed in the USA for “security purposes.”

      There are shopping malls in the USA right now that, for many years, have not allowed people to wear the hoods on their jackets and sweatshirts while shopping because the hood interferes with the facial recognition software cameras!

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