Internet connected mannequins bring a whole new meaning to "window shopping"

The British high street will soon be channelling Minority Report, as new high-tech mannequins are installed in House of Fraser, Hawes & Curtis and Bentalls.

Using electronic “beacons” that are installed directly into the mannequins, customers will have information about the clothes on display beamed directly to their smartphones via a web portal programmed by the retailer.

If a customer has installed a specialised app on their Android or Apple smartphone, once they pass within 50 metres of the beacon mannequin they will receive an automatic alert directing them to find out more information about the clothes that model is wearing.

These details include the name of the clothes and accessories displayed, their prices and –most importantly – links to purchase them directly from the retailer’s website or where they can be located in store.

Customers can also save looks for later, share clothes with friends and access additional offers and rewards.

Beacon technology is not a new concept. It is already in use in many public spaces, including musesums and art galleries where it transmits information about exhibits directly to visitors.

Its installation on the high street, however, marks the first time that it has been designed specifically for a retail environment. The cities of Aberdeen, London and Kingston upon Thames have all been confirmed as trialling the technology in various stores.

Developed by Iconeme, these “VMBeacons” will operate 24 hours a day, even when a shop is closed. Essentially then the shop windows will become an eternal interactive sales counter, bringing a whole new meaning to the term “window shopping.”

Retailers will also benefit by learning details of the shoppers using the VMBeacons, including age, gender and what outfit they viewed. Shoppers can control the amount of personal data they share via app privacy settings.

“We are always looking at ways to integrate new and innovative technology to help maximise customer shopping experiences,” said Andy Harding, executive director for multi-channel at House of Fraser.

“With such demand from mobile devices, it’s important we continue to bring new technology to our stores, and believe that the Iconeme App provides retailers with an opportunity to really engage with their customers.”