"Are you a model?"

Sale Bot

Millie really wants you to buy that new outfit — Millie thinks it makes you look so good!

Unfortunately, Millie isn't a new friend or significant other. Instead, it's an AI avatar built specifically to flatter you and push you to spend more at retail stores when you walk near its kiosks. That's according to the MIT Technology Review's Will Knight, who recently tested out the system.

Attention Shoppers

Millie's software uses computer vision to tell when a customer approaches, as well as when someone accepts Millie's encouragement to try on new clothes or pick up a nearby product — all tactics that TwentyBN, the company that created Millie, says are intended to increase sales. When Knight tried a pair of sunglasses, for instance, Millie asked if he was a model.

But Millie's AI is far behind the abilities of an actual sales associate. Training a digital avatar to detect and respond to people is no small feat, to be sure, but it bears mentioning that we do not yet know how to build artificial intelligence that truly mirrors that of a human.


Knight found Millie's interface to be clunky, which isn't surprising: contextually understanding and crafting specific compliments based on one's appearance is too sophisticated for current AI chatbots.

"The experience isn’t quite polished enough yet, and Millie’s communication skills are a bit crude and basic," Knight wrote.

Still, if your wallet can take the hit, a little flattery never hurt anybody.

READ MORE: I tested an AI sales assistant that's trained to push you into spending more [MIT Technology Review]

More on retail technology: Amazon is Testing its Cashierless Tech in big box Stores

Share This Article