Don't think you can escape personalised adverts by switching the computer off. Luxury shops have started to use seeing-eye mannequins that harvest data about customers in the real world and - yes - target ads so they can sell more.
Packing technology that is used in airport security, the EyeSee mannequins from Italian company Almax can sense and log the gender, race and age of people as they walk into a shop, a report from Bloomberg explains.
The mannequin, looking right back at you and deciding how to make you buy more shit
The peeping dummies then track how the customers move around the store, how long they stay and correlate that information with whether they buy anything and how much they spend. The images are fed into facial-recognition software which logs various attributes of the customer while keeping them anonymous. (Until it links up with Facebook at least.) EyeSee models don't store images, and can be used with a closed-circuit TV television license.
Various clothes shops have invested in the mannequins, which cost 4000 euros each.
Stores already use cameras that do this work, but mannequins work better, says Almax CEO, because the cameras are at eye-level and invite customer attention, as people are more likely to stand and look at it.
Almax plan to give the mannequins ears too, so they can "hear" what customers say about the clothes. Clients also sometimes ask for the model to log and discount store employees so they don't confuse the data.
The mannequins could serve up the equivalent of cookie-enabled adverts on screens placed next to the models - for example calling up items from the menswear section if determining that the person in front of it is a man.
Only a dozen have been sold, Almax tell Bloomberg, but the tracking company are confident that there will be strong demand for the EyeSee models.
Almax are a mannequin-making company based near Milan. ®