8 Things You Wouldn’t Think Are Spying On You, But Are

April 3, 2015   |   Jake Anderson

Jake Anderson

(ANTIMEDIA) The next time you take a trip to the mall, make sure you give those mannequins a big smile. The surveillance industry’s latest recruit—joining the ranks of the Statue of Liberty, vending machines, Kinect, and a litany of other seemingly innocuous retail products—is store mannequins. The $245 billion dollar luxury goods industry currently avails itself of five companies in Europe and the U.S. that use the EyeSee polystyrene frame mannequins, whose eyes are equipped with police grade face-recognition cameras.

Italian mannequin maker Almax SpA supplies these bionic oddities, offering companies the holy grail of retail: “personalizing” their sales offerings.

More than just surveillance cameras

Most shoppers think store cameras are just used to detect and deter shoplifters, but now some stores are tracking shoppers to gather information about target markets, and what products shoppers like and don’t like.

Shopperception is another high-tech company offering this type of technology, and it’s being used at large retailers like Walmart. This technology uses motion-sensor cameras placed in the eyes of mannequins. These cameras come equipped with facial recognition software and track customers’ demographics, what they purchase, and how long it takes consumers to buy certain items.

Another popular technology uses heat maps that are put on top of security camera images to see what items customers are drawn to the most. Different colors like orange or red detect interest in a product; this is determined by the length of time the consumer has stood in front of and handled the product.

Questions of privacy

Although shopper surveillance devices hidden in a mannequin’s eyes are not viewed as a privacy violation by many, some retailers are upping the ante and have begun tracking customers via information from their cell phones. Many see this as an invasion of privacy.

But retailers like Nordstrom, who use WiFi signals from customers’ cell phones to track shopping habits, argue that it is a great way to learn about customer habits and how they can improve the services offered in the retail setting.

New privacy laws and code-of-conduct agreements are governing the use of retail surveillance practices. These agreements are designed to protect customers, while also allowing retailers to collect data for marketing reasons.

Among consumers, cell phone tracking has proven the most troublesome, and many feel this practice should only be conducted with full disclosure and permission given by the consumer. This is especially important because shoppers don’t know how the tracking information is stored, used and sold. With recent disclosures regarding corporate and government collusion in data mining operations, the motives and ethics behind targeted marketing must be reexamined.

The following are also involved in feeding the 100 billion dollar data mining industry:

State of Liberty

surveillance-state

AntiMedia CC 3.0

That’s right, Lady Liberty, the monolithic structure that greets our poor, tired, huddled masses, is part of Big Brother’s surveillance enterprise. Actually, it has been since 2002, when early face-recognition software was installed. Since then, the technology has evolved and so has the amount of money infused into the surveillance industry. In 2012, contractor Total Recall Corp. outfitted our fair lady with FaceVACS-VideoScan software, which tracks millions of New Yorkers’ faces in real-time, pinpointing race, gender, ethnicity, age, and even “client behavior.”

There’s certainly a bit of irony in the government using a larger than life symbol of liberty and democracy for arguably unconstitutional domestic surveillance practices.

Vending Machines

In Tulsa, a vending machine robbery was solved after the criminals’ faces were captured on a camera situated inside. The cameras are owned and installed by the vending machine companies themselves. The purpose – besides law enforcement – is unknown but is likely related to target market research.

Kinect

Everybody knows that Kinect, the motion sensing console featured in millions of family living rooms, has a camera. Of course it does, that’s how it senses your movements, but what if you found out that not only is Kinect recording and storing your activity, it may also be recording and storing the conversations you have while you’re playing — and even while it’s turned off?

Microsoft officially denies that Kinect records conversations, but then in the same sentence they brag about the device’s ability to read your heartbeat and recognize individual voices!

Billboards

The company Immersive Labs has created software for digital billboards that allows them to watch your face and then tailor a specific ad based on your facial features.

Jell-O, Adidas and Kraft

Jell-O, Adidas and Kraft all use facial recognition software in supermarkets to help them craft more effective TV commercials. The creepiest part of this is the cameras are actually linked up to Facebook as well, so the company could hypothetically couple their video surveillance with social media profiles for an even juicier data grab.

The Big Bang Theory

As of April 2013, Verizon had applied to patent a new cable box that uses infrared cameras and microphones to track the activities of viewers during blocks of The Big Bang Theory.

The City of Seattle

A new apparatus that is capable of hi-tech surveillance (and more) will be installed at many of the major intersections in downtown Seattle. So what, all cities have surveillance, right? Well, rumor has it that there is a new technology being used here that involves triangulating our cell phones, so that we essentially become rogue devices.


This article (8 Things You Wouldn’t Think Are Spying On You, But Are) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TheAntiMedia.org. Tune in to the Anti-Media radio show Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Help us fix our typos: edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: Jake Anderson

Jake Anderson joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in April of 2015. His topics of interest include social justice, science, corporatocracy, and dystopian science fiction. He currently resides in Escondido, California.

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47 Comments

  1. My scrotum has a camera hidden inside of it 🙁

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  2. I must be pretty boring then lol

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  3. That's a lot of development and money to only gather data during the big bang theory. What happens when it gets cancelled? No more surveillance…

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  4. The cell-phone tracking is done with Cisco Meraki access points. It uses your cell phone's WIFI MAC address and logs you as a repeat visitor. You do not have to connect to the access point for it to get this info. http://blogs.splunk.com/2014/10/31/19879/

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  5. This is only the beginning, the worst is yet to come! Not paranoid, just well informed.

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  6. I stopped reading once I saw you had the Kinect on this list. Anyone who believes that the Kinect records you when your box is off is a fucking tool.

    If microsoft really wants to sit at their cubicles and collect data of me jerkin and having sex…then I'm ok with that.

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  7. If you believe that's true then tell me how when your Xbox 1 is completely off you can say Xbox on and it turns on?

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  8. Drew Pickle Because there are two ways to turn off your Xbox. 1: "Xbox Off" or simply tapping the button puts the Xbox in standby. This downloads updates in the background and allows for the easy use of "Xbox On" feature. Go tap and hold the Xbox One light on the console itself and you will FULLY shut down the console. Doing this will disable "Xbox On" from working because *gasp* you turned the Xbox off.

    Its really easy if you actually know how to use the product you own.

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  9. You are one dumb SOB. Hitler made idiots, dead idiots, out of passive "tools" like you, and Obama (the new Hitler) will as well. You give up your privacy all you want, I will keep mine.

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  10. Josh Porter If you read the article linked to in that section, it details the anecdotal evidence that Kinect has the ability to store and archive conversations when the device is off, and may be doing so. I agree that they may not be spying on our every actions, but they could very well be collecting our behavioral data. Why? Because data mining companies pay incredible amounts of $$$, even for a Microsoft. I wouldn't put so much faith in giant corporations. Better to be vigilant than exploited.

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  11. The mannequins do exist already, the cost is about $3000. They just put in face recognition software at work, for the time clock.

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  12. @Jake Anderson, fine by me. Just googling YouTube, Facebook, random articles, and jerkin off. Really don't give two shits about my Kinect. It still fully powers down when you manually turn off your Xbox.

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  13. TO be honest the gov has all the things to watch us.you my not beleave it but it is true so don't do any thing wrong

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  14. TO be honest the gov has all the things to watch us.you my not beleave it but it is true so don't do any thing wrong

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  15. A desk top can be tapped even without internet. They pull next doors internet over to the pc and does not even require a wireless card.

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  16. I contend that the LAST thing ANY GOVERNMENT wants is freedom for its citizens, and will do whatever it takes to dilute everyone's liberties as much as possible.

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  17. I tried that and to my surprise it turned on, guess I do know my product.

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  18. @Drew Pickle, right. I too can say anything on the web and claim it to be factual. Sorry, but the Xbox does NOT work that way. 😉 Sounds like you turned it off wrong.

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  19. So I guess I need to cancel my plans to rob the local bank.

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  20. cant you guys tell by looking at this guy's profile picture hes a mongoloid mouth breather ???

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  21. Jeeeze some of these tools on here…..Most things spy on you these days fact. If you're finding this hard to compute, you are part of the problem. It actually shocks me when you defend the elite and their procedures when most of it has solid proof and is in black and white for all to see……

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  22. Well they build all this tech and you know little about it but you use it. Why do you think there is no real push for RFID chip implants at this time? They got you to buy the tech they needed you to have so they could spy on you. Truth is you all over use everything so you get what you deserve.

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  23. Well they build all this tech and you know little about it but you use it. Why do you think there is no real push for RFID chip implants at this time? They got you to buy the tech they needed you to have so they could spy on you. Truth is you all over use everything so you get what you deserve.

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  24. On the kinect, since its in your house wouldn't it be easy to set up a terminal and just see everything its doing. Easy to verify whether or not you're spied on.

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  25. What if it was a thousand of you and your mates against 7 billion people waiting to find out how you control things and why? You would need all the info you can get lol

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  26. The sad part most still not awake to the facts..these massive injustices and atrocities comes from the criminals we keep electing…
    It doesn't matter which side of the coin still same coin..
    Evolve….break the chains…wake up already…labels should be on foods not on people….for free education…for real justice…for with and in PEACE…for Fair Trade no free oppressive trade….against the TPP…to stop the oil wars…to bring our soldiers home…to have a peace of mind in all concerns ADDRESSED all of them…public banks…public jails…real solutions…
    Do you really trust these spoiled rich bullies children with nuclear weapons?…if they feel like they won't care about you…their actions in the past have shown…they got their bunkers and jets ready do you?
    Evolve break free and join the global cry for change..
    We and by the people…we are the majority unite not divide is only 1 planet..
    We must empower nations not slave them or abuse them for their resources..
    Corporations are destroying HUMANITY and the PLANET…AND WE ARE LETTING THEM BY ELECTING THEIR PUPPETS!…wake up…no more wars no more injustices no more empty lies of better from the same!
    Unite be part of the future now is becoming increasingly important to switch you all's thinking of hate..blame the real problem…not the victims of the OPPRESSION…stop the real bullies NOW NOT LATER.
    Please…51% and growing don't identify with either party…any side of the coin…same coin….we are the majority…and most DON'T KNOW OF THE ALTERNATIVE…..
    THE HOPE!
    The GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE…DR. JILL STEIN!!!
    …BECAUSE ACTIONS COUNT…NOT WORDS !!!
    “There is an occasion where a third party actually won a presidential election coming into it at as a third party. And that was a time of extreme social upheaval, like what we’re in right now,” Stein said. “His name was Abraham Lincoln.”

    The right leader for all wrongs addressed…check her facebook page….her plan…learn…act…share…can vote or not…help make this a reality…for all not the few…united we stand for change..justice …prosperity and preservation…the only diplomat…not sold out to corporations…the intelligent choice…now not later we may not have that luxury…www.jill2016.com
    For we the people for and by the people for the planet!!!
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  27. Michael Jarratt i would bring those peopke further up and let go much of my wealth after all its only 62 people usung .1% of the population to bring comfortability for 10% @ about 100000 and the other 80% as it stands struggles to at least make 30000 yes there is plenty of in betweeners who i didnt acount for on purpose as well as those who make nothing at all

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