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Weird Invention: The Stores Have Eyes

December 10, 2013

A trip to the supermarket is stressful enough, and that’s not even counting the body-scanning cameras checking you out while you try to pick out a toilet brush.

Tesco, a chain of grocery and gas station/convenience stores in the U.K., wants to make sure that you’re receiving full access to all of the products you might want to purchase. How? By using body-scanning cameras to scan customers, and then bombard them with customized advertisements. The system is being tested at all 450 Tesco convenience stores, and if successful, it will be installed in the company’s supermarkets.

Here’s how it works: While a customer stands at the pumps, filling their gas tank, a hidden camera scans them to determine their age, sex, and physical features. Then a monitor plays a 10-second advertisement on a 100-second loop. If you’re male and around 20, for example, you might get an ad for Axe Body Spray or Doritos. If it’s late and the camera’s computer system decides you look tired, you’ll get an ad for coffee or Red Bull. Then, presumably, you’ll head inside and buy the recommended products.

EyeSeeMannequin00Tesco isn’t the only company experimenting with this kind of technology. In 2012, an Italian company called Almax rolled out the EyeSee, a mannequin with cameras hidden in its eyes. It’s also outfitted with a hidden computer that can record audio and analyze shoppers’ faces so it can track comments and movements. Almax says the EyeSee will help department stores serve their customers better by learning more about their shopping habits. Watch what you say and do: the $5,130 mannequins are already popping up in stores across Europe and the United States.

Want more weird inventions? Check out Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Weird Inventions.

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