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In Some Stores, the Mannequins Are Watching You

A high-tech mannequin acts as a spy-cam on customers
In Some Stores, the Mannequins Are Watching You
Photograph by Almax

Store mannequins are meant to catch your eye. Soon, you may catch theirs. Italian mannequin maker Almax is rolling out the EyeSee, a mannequin equipped with technology typically used to identify criminals at airports. The dummies allow retailers to glean demographic data and shopping patterns from customers as they move through stores, much as online merchants do.

Although retailers are loath to discuss the mannequins’ use, Almax Chief Executive Officer Max Catanese says five companies are using a total of “a few dozen” of them in three European countries and the U.S.—and he has outstanding orders for at least that many more. Already, he says, information collected by the €4,000 ($5,130) device has spurred shops to adjust window displays, store layouts, and promotions to keep consumers spending. “It’s spooky,” says Luca Solca, head of luxury goods research at Exane BNP Paribas in London. “You wouldn’t expect a mannequin to be observing you.”