Puzzle with woman on the left and man on the right

Magic mirrors on the wall, who’s the smartest of them all?

Mirrors have been used throughout history and for countless purposes. The very first mirrors were crafted from polished stone. Later on they were made from copper, silver and even gold. Throughout the ages they have been used to view our reflection, but also for decoration and for various applications in art and science. Mirrors have always been considered magical and the mirror of the future is smarter and more magical than ever before. Soon, mirrors will be used as extensions or even replacements of our laptops, tablets and Smartphones. They’ll enhance our shopping experience, point out our flaws, assist retailers increase their turnover and help us keep tabs on our health. Intrigued? You should be. Before you know it, our traditional mirrors will all have made way for new, hyper intelligent smart mirrors.

Shopping has a whole new dimension – introducing the MemoryMirror and Samsung’s OLED

Imagine being able to try on new clothing without having to take your own clothes off. It is possible with the new smart mirrors. While many people enjoy shopping online, the fact that we are unable to try on clothes is one of the downsides. Shopping in physical stores, however, often means running back and forth to the fitting rooms to try on different sizes. With various companies introducing smart mirrors, this inconvenience may soon be a thing of the past. Imagine a mirror showing you different styles, colours, shapes and sizes, projected onto your reflection. It’s like having a personal stylist in the fitting room with you to help you choose the best options.

The patented MemoryMirror from the California-based company MemoMi is one of the most advanced smart mirrors available. It combines video, 360-degree viewing, augmented reality as well as social networking into one incredible, high-end package. The MemoryMirror was introduced at the National Retail Federation expo last year. It was developed for clothes shopping in brick and mortar stores. It captures stills as well as video of the clothes the shopper tries on. The mirror can be controlled by simple gestures, letting the shopper view him or herself from every angle imaginable. To make comparisons and the decision making process easier, it can also show various outfits in different colours next to each other, in real time. The images can be shared via smartphone, social media platforms and email.

Samsung has unveiled its own smart mirror: the Mirror and Transparent OLED display solution; a 55-inch mirror with a transparent OLED on the front. Fitted with Real Sense Technology, it uses 3D cameras to track the user. It can display everything from clothing, shoes and jewellery onto the reflection of the user. This will create the illusion that the viewer is actually wearing these items. Samsung Display Company’s vice president Oseung Yang has indicated their excitement at bringing a new interactive dimension to the world of multi-channel shopping through the integration of their newest OLED displays. Even though Samsung is not the only or even the first company to use this type of technology, the OLED display solution is able to deliver at least 50 percent more reflectance than its competitor models. The future may well see many of our mirrors at home replaced by the Samsung Mirror Display.

Panasonic’s virtual mirror points out your every flaw – then suggests remedies

Instead of literally showcasing the positive sides of shopping, and indeed shoppers, Panasonic’s virtual mirror focuses on our flaws. With advanced built-in high definition cameras, Panasonic’s smart mirror analyses our skin and spots sun damage, wrinkles, age spots and any other flaws it can find. A far cry from the fairytale answers we all want to hear from our magic mirrors! It does however suggest which products to purchase and treatments to get in order to remedy these flaws. This smart mirror also enables clients to try different types of makeup and experiment with things like eyebrow shape. It can even let you ‘try on’ different types of facial hair. Julie Bauer, president of Panasonic’s consumer electronics for North America says the mirror is certainly not just a gimmick. She points out that it’s a serious technology solution that enables retailers to engage with their customers and even has potential for the education and clinical market. Panasonic has indicated that the mirror has been developed for department stores around the world to boost product sales.

A win-win: enhanced experience for the shopper and improved turnover for the retailer

With the emergence of online shopping we may think the fitting room old fashioned and redundant but the reality is very different. Brick and mortar stores are actually tapping into the possibilities the modern fitting rooms have to offer. The physical fitting room plays a vitally important role in converting shoppers to buyers. While only 36 percent of people browsing through a store end up making a purchase, a whopping 71 percent of shoppers who head into the fitting room to try on clothes actually leave the store with their new outfits. With smart mirrors installed, retailers can actually access specific data on who tried on what and whether or not a purchase was made – depending on the functionality of the mirrors. Some stores get shoppers to register an account – after which the shopper can use the virtual mirror’s amazing features. It goes without saying that any data collected is aggregated and anonymous, unless indicated otherwise.

White hand touching smartphone screen

Just for fun: the Selfie Mirror does more than take selfies

Browsing through Instagram, you’d be forgiven for thinking the world is full of self-obsessed narcissists. Smart Ltd. is capitalising on the selfie craze by introducing the Selfie Mirror. This high tech device eliminates our never ending quest for the perfect shot. Mounted on your wall, the Selfie Mirror is ready to capture your image whenever you want. And not only that! It enables you to connect with your friends and admirers via social media by automatically posting your shots – with your permission, of course. The Selfie Mirror can also be used for Skype video calls and to record vlogs – all while basking in the most perfect, most flattering LED lights. As if this is not enough to make your head spin, the magic mirror’s start screen displays anything from the date and time to social media messages, weather forecasts and the latest news. The Selfie Mirror is not just for fun and games, however. It can also give you quick access to various services. Trip Advisor, Uber and Maps can all be easily accessed via the start screen. The Selfie Mirror has motion sensors, which makes it perfect for surveillance purposes as well. As soon as a sensor is triggered, video footage or images are captured and sent to your Smartphone. The sensors can also be used for detecting and analysing air quality, temperature and humidity levels and can warn you in the event of fire or gas leaks. And if that isn’t enough, the Selfie Mirror can function as the control centre of your home. Connected to your smart home system, it can control your devices such as your appliances, lighting and thermostat but also your smart doorbell. The Selfie Mirror will be available to the public from March 2016.

The Wize Mirror – serious technology that focuses on what’s inside

Most personal smart mirrors are ‘merely’ a glass mirror, enhanced with touch screen functionality and other interesting and exciting features related to our appearance. The technology can however be used for much more valuable purposes than appearance related applications only. Researchers at SEMEOTICONS, a European project, have developed a smart mirror that may help improve our health. It uses the human face as an important indicator of a person’s well being. The mirror makes use of sensors, facial recognition software, 3D scanners and cameras to pick up signs of heart disease, stroke, liver disease, hyperthyroidism and diabetes. Sensors check your breath for evidence of smoking or alcohol consumption. Facial recognition software ‘sees’ signs of anxiety or exhaustion. 3D scanners monitor possible swelling and weight gain while cameras check heart rate and oxygen levels by analysing the colour of your skin. The goal of the Wize Mirror is to provide a non-invasive health tool that can be used anywhere and by anyone. Not only are they ideal for private use at home; they can also be installed at schools and pharmacies or at fitness and nutritional centres. The project consortium comprises various European research organisations, two SMEs and two industrial partners. Countries involved are Greece, Italy, France, Sweden, Spain, Norway and the United Kingdom.

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Our beloved looking glass will never be the same again

The traditional looking glass, capable of ‘magically’ reflecting our image back to us, will soon be a thing of the past. The mirror, mirror on the wall as we know it today will become an antiquity; an object of days gone by. In its place we’ll have thin, interactive screens that know everything about us and can predict our choices, our health and indeed, our future. Are you ready for it?

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