Mannequin Cameras Are Watching You Shop: This is Creepy and Probably Illegal

Remember that Twilight Zone episode about the mannequins that came to life? I do, because it gave me nightmares as a kid. And now it’s real.

Miffed that online retailers had all the customer-stalking fun, luxury stores are starting to use mannequins with cameras in their eyes and facial recognition software in their horrifying mannequin brains. The software, which logs the age, race and gender of passersby, is the same kind that’s used by police departments and airport security, which will come in handy when the cyborgs become sentient and decide to take over the world.

The idea is that EyeSee, the technology behind this abomination, can track customer behavior and shopping patterns so that retailers can adjust their displays and store layouts accordingly. One store introduced a children’s line after the robot sentinels reported that kids made up more than half of their afternoon traffic, Bloomberg reported.  

Aside from being outright terrifying, the software raises some legal questions. Stores are allowed to video tape customers for security purposes, as long as they post signs announcing that they’re doing so, but recording customers purely for business purposes may cross the line into unlawful surveillance.

If you’re not convinced that this whole thing is straight out of a nightmare, I dare you to watch the Twilight Zone episode that warned about this and then go into a store without keeping an eye on the mannequins to make sure they’re not following you around and plotting your plastic demise.

Watch The Twilight Zone: The After Hours (Part I):


Part II:


Part III: