This came up in a colleague’s class. Very disturbing.
There are cameras everywhere. They’re like cockroaches; for every one you actually notice, there are hundreds more that you don’t. (Though they’re not scurrying around in the walls, yet.) Given their ubiquity it’s rare these days to hear a complaint about cameras in public places such as stores, unless they’re hidden in a fitting room or bathroom. But last week, much of the media was in an uproar over store cameras. Why? Because they were placed inside mannequins.
In the lead-up to the holiday shopping season, BusinessWeek reported that “bionic mannequins are spying on shoppers to boost luxury sales” at five unnamed companies. The $5,130 EyeSee mannequins from Almax have cameras embedded in their eyes that use IBM Cognos software to record the number of shoppers checking out window displays and clothes, how long they lingered, and their age, gender and race. They don’t keep any images of the customers, just the aggregate data about who’s been considering blowing money on cashmere sweaters and $300 jeans. But it may not stop there.