I was planning to blog about this for last few days. IBM is testing a new biometrics technology which uses mini-cameras placed in a mannequin’s eye or placed somewhere in a store.
There are two tests going on in Milan, one for a fashion company’s flagship store and the other, in an electronics store. The clients have sworn I.B.M. to secrecy for fear of customer backlash, although I.B.M. promises that the data is collected only in aggregated form and cannot be traced to any individuals.
“We started with fashion because it is a creative and innovative industry, but it’s clear that people have to be educated so they know their privacy will not be compromised,” said Enrico Bozzi, the manager of I.B.M. Forum Milano, the department that developed the technology. “It is a question of changing people’s perception.”
The application of biometrics and results IBM gathered are quite interesting.
I.B.M.’s applications are different. At the pilot in the Milan fashion store, for example, the client noticed that almost all Asian customers enter the store through one particular door, even though five are available.
“We thought it was a mistake, but we checked it out and it was right and it continues to happen,” Mr. Bozzi said. “We don’t know why yet but, in the meantime, the store is considering positioning products by that door that are known to appeal particularly to Asian shoppers.”
Once shoppers can be tracked, the next step could be advertisements selected to match biometric triggers: A customer walks into a shop and a piped-in voice asks if the jacket she bought last time has been satisfactory and would she like to see something similar from a new line. (Tom Cruise’s character received the same treatment in the 2002 movie “Minority Report.”)