Imagine waking up each morning and, while you're groggily brushing your teeth in front of the mirror, the mirror comes to life — immediately recognizing you and reading your text messages aloud, displaying news stories and weather information tailored to your preferences, and showing you your daily calendar and to-do list. If you need to send a text, it will have speech-to-text capabilities, as well as facial recognition, gesture recognition, a webcam and more. This mirror-as-dashboard idea is no longer far-fetched — computer science and engineering students at Purdue University have created a prototype mirror (called "Mirror, Mirror," after the famous sentient mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves) that does just that, and hopefully, a lot more.
The prototype uses its facial recognition capabilities to identify who is looking at it, and links up to that person's user profile — pulling and displaying personal Facebook, Twitter, email and other messages and accounts. The original prototype was developed at a 36-hour hackathon in the fall of 2014 called Boilermake, out of plywood and an old monitor. The latest version uses a flat-screen monitor covered by one-way glass, and resembles a flat-screen TV unless you're standing in front of it.
The Mirror, Mirror prototype allows for "easier integration of information into people's lives," says Jordan Duffy, an innovation and IT Strategist. "Tech like this makes staying informed and knowledgeable on current affairs easy." Duffy suggests that a mirror like this could be integrated with other connected devices in the home and used for everything from getting children to brush their teeth, to makeup application tips to possible health uses such as identifying skin cancers. (In fact, other "smart mirrors" created for this very purpose are now in clinical trials.)
So far, this mirror is just in the prototype stage, with the founders reportedly considering a Kickstarter or other crowdfunding push to get it to market. They also want to offer their API to developers "for every last tweak you need," according to their website.
But how likely is something like this mirror to become a part of the American home? "Kitchens and baths are changing dramatically from what they used to be," says Nancy Keenholts Dalton of the Seattle-based design build firm Baywolf Dalton. "I am integrating technology into projects, actually many times in the cabinetry I design. I see this as being integrated into the kitchen. Clients will want to watch cooking videos and check the news," she says. While Dalton is optimistic about smart mirror technology entering the American home, she has one function she'd rather the mirror not have: "I do want to be able to disable a camera, or simply not have that feature."