Legit Email Or Scam? Legit Text Message Or Scam? What To Do Next
Trouble In Smart Phone Land

Smart Mannequins Coming Soon To A Retail Store Near You

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about facial recognition and what consumers need to know. Then, a couple articles appeared about EyeSee, a brand of the new version of bionic mannequins coming soon to retail stores.

I like to call them "smart mannequins," which seems to more aequately describe the technologies used.

Smart mannequins allow retailers to place cameras discretely (or secretly, dpending upon your point-of-view) throughout their stores at eye-level (or lower), unlike traditional security cameras mounted high-up on poles or in the ceilings. I am sure that some retailers hope that this new technology will decrease or deter shoplifting crime.

Also, there several implications for consumers. First, retailers can learn more about the types of consumers that enter their stores. How? The cameras can distinguish betwen gender (e.g., male and female), and age (e.g., children and adults). Some experts claim that the cameras in smart mannequins can determine a person's race. I highly doubt the accuracy of that claim since race is a social construct and since people's appearances vary widely within a race.

Second, retailers can learn more about your shopping habits, since smart mannequins utilize facial recognition technogy. The cameras record the store locations and times of day shoppers visit. The facial recognition component allows retailers to learn where within the store you visit, plus your shopping preferences -- even when you do not buy anything. Depending upon placement, the camera can record the types of clothing you review (e.g., pants, dresses, shoes), the size, and colors as your remove garments from the racks to inspect and/or try on.

This brings the data collection about shoppers and browsers at brick-and-mortar stores closer to the online data collection, where retailers learn about your preferences given the website pages you select and view. Together, it makes anonymous shopping more difficult.

And bionic mannequins raises issues about privacy, disclosure, and notification:

  • How long is the in-store collected data archived?
  • What other companies does the retailer share the in-store collected facial data with?
  • How long is the in-store collected data archived?
  • How can consumers opt out of the in-store data collection?
  • At what point during the in-store visit should a retailer present its privacy policy?
  • Or will a single policy "rule" both online and in-store data collection?
  • Should there be separate rules that govern retail store section with medical/health devices and products?
  • Should data be collected about children?
  • If data should be collected about some children, starting at what age?

The facial recognition guidelines recommended by the FTC include privacy by design, transparency, and choice (to opt in or out). The FTC and CDT support a tiered approach that distinguishes between facial recognition technologies that Count (Level 1), Target (Level 2), and Identify (Level 3) consumers.

Some privacy advocates propose a Digital Out Of Home (DOOH) structure to cover all of the various several technologies (e.g., auto license plate scanners, RFID skimmers, interactive billboards, drones, smart mannequins) which can be used to track consumers.

What's your opinion of smart mannequins and tracking within brick-and-mortar stores?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.