As if mannequins weren't creepy enough already, now some spy on you as you shop

Online retailers are able to collect massive amounts of data on consumers and their shopping habits. Now brick and mortar retailers want to enjoy the benefits of sweet, sweet data gathering, and they're employing spying mannequins to do it.

According to Businessweek, five luxury retailers are employing a few dozen mannequins from the Italian company Almax SpA. The company's EyeSee system uses the same technology used to identify criminals at airports. While stores already use overhead cameras to watch shoppers, Almax SpA claims that the eye-level data gathered by their mannequins offers a little something extra:

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.

What might give shoppers pause, however, is how EyeSee is gathering that data. The mannequins don't just record your shopping habits with a camera; they feed what they record to a computer system that uses facial-recognition software—much like that used by law enforcement—to identify and log the age, gender, and race of shoppers. Incognito shopping may require learning some camera-thwarting hair and makeup techniques.

Bionic Mannequins Spy on Shoppers to Boost Luxury Sales [Businessweek via Neatorama]