First our clothes, then our minds

24 01 2008

NewsThe Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) has released information on new clothing selection tools in development for business use. Essentially, shoppers at clothing stores will get the chance to enter a room with multiple cameras and screens displaying pictures of customer wearing multiple outfits. However, they will not be alone in that room. There will also be computer assistance, which makes suggestions to the customer based on popular styles and other recommended selections within the story. It “improves [a shopper’s] confidence in the decision-making process and improves their shopping experience,” says Wei Zhang, a student at Oregon State University.

Fitting Room

People may not feel confident, but at least their clothes are a reflection of decisions they made themselves. How far is too far? Will anyone say ‘no’ when future technology analyzes people’s tastes in food and decides for them what they would like to eat? I think the most human part of us all is our ability to make decisions, to know what we like and dislike. Every time we allow others to make decisions for us, we forfeit a piece of our identity.

There is also potential for abuse here. No store that I have seen actively advertises its least fashionable, out-of-style clothing. And last time I checked, it is normally the least fashionable, out-of-style clothing that costs less. I worry these computers and social networks will pressure people into buyinh things they don’t need and paying more just to fit in. Does our society really need to obsess more about appearance? Do the stores really need another little boost control over what we buy?

I recognize that a lot of good could come out of technology like this. I am just wary of our society’s many attempts at pressuring us this way or that. I prefer live my own life, thank you.

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