Media reports indicate that bionic mannequins equipped with police-grade technology are being used by fashion stores to spy on shoppers.
According to Bloomberg.com, the 5,000-dollar dummies, called EyeSee, use facial recognition software as a noninvasive way to extract data from customers who walk by, including roundabout age, race and gender, the New York Daily News reported.
AdvertisementA tiny camera embedded in one of the mannequin's eyes records the information.
The info can be used to help stores cater to their customer base.
For example, one store that learned many of its afternoon visitors were kids introduced a children's line to boost sales.
Another that learned many of its customers were Asian opted to put Chinese-speaking employees near the entrance, according to the website.
Although the mannequins only record information - not photographs - creeped-out shoppers voiced concern online.
"Privacy invasion taken to a whole new level," one Twitter user wrote.
However, others embraced the new technology.
"Amazing," another person tweeted. "The latest weapon retailers have to understand shoppers."
Italian security company Almax, which makes the mannequins, won't disclose every store that uses them, but said its clients include leading fashion brands.
The dummies are already used in the US and three European countries.
Almax is also testing software that allows the mannequins to listen to shoppers' conversations, the company's CEO Max Catanese said.