Maybe more of us should go back to reading fairy tales to gain inspiration for our next digital invention. Too bad the Brothers Grimm didn’t live in the 21st Century. If they did, maybe the Evil Queen from the fairy tale ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ would’ve used the Magic Mirror to fix her pores while listening to her favorite music!
We’re living in the age of the Smart Mirror, a mirror that can speak to you through an integrated smart assistant and play your favorite playlist while analysing your skin simultaneously. I thought this was something that we’d see in our homes in the distant future but it’s here!
The first one I heard about was by a South Korean tech startup named Icon.ai. They won the Innovation Award at the CES 2020 for their original version of the smart mirror called Venus. They officially launched the evolved version, Zmirror, last year. This mirror performs like a specialized smart display and includes an Alexa-powered Harman Kardon smart speaker in the base and a skincare analysis and suggestion app. The Zmirror’s 7-inch touchscreen within the 9-inch mirror is surrounded by an LED ring light that can change lighting to test your look in different settings. It can be rotated and turned into a lamp. All settings can be controlled by voice through the smart speaker integrated with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in the base. It can be integrated with Spotify and YouTube as well, and the resulting music wafts through their high-end Harman Kardon speakers – elevating the user experience.
Last week I shared the concept of Digital Skincare Analysis through my presentation in class. This smart mirror comes with its own special skin health analysis ability as well. The camera within the mirror takes a photo of your face and uses a database of more than 10,000 photos to analyze skin health, measured against people with similar skin tones. The resulting “skin score” can then be tracked with daily photos. New features to be added in May 2021 include product and treatment recommendations.
As we know, the usage and adoption of AI in Beauty aka Smart Beauty is on the rise, particularly during the pandemic when consumers have not been able to physically visit stores or skincare professionals. Naturally, Icon.ai isn’t alone in exploring the potential of combining smart displays with makeup and beauty services.
A year prior to the launch of Venus at CES, HiMirror debuted its own version of a smart mirror that could assess skin health and leverage Alexa. The HiMirror Mini allows you to analyze and track the effectiveness of skincare products, stream music, browse social media, and much more. It offers 64GB storage space and retails at $349, while some other versions retail as low at $119. Users have also loved their Beauty Box app, which allows them to scan the barcode of their skincare products and integrate them into routines and regimens. This way they could track skin results and see which products have been helping their skin the most.
HiMirror also allowed users to use YouTube, in its own optimized version called HiTube, to directly watch videos on their screen. Since beauty videos are one of the largest video categories on YouTube, HiMirror was marketed to beauty enthusiasts by saying “if you’re watching a make up tutorial you’re trying to attempt yourself, you just open up your slide & you can see the video & mirror at the same time while you create your look! We are not just a smart mirror, but the best beauty consultant the world has seen, in the comfort of your own home.” And with Alexa built into HiMirror, you can reorder moisturizer, set a timer, and even call an Uber by simply asking. Talk about marketing!
Adding smart features to a regular mirror has always been an exciting prospect. Some of my research led me to a whole new world where people have been creating DIY Smart Mirrors at home! A simple Google search showed me that people have been creating their own versions of smart mirrors, with a potential to integrate with Google Duo, scan their Twitter feed, check their daily calendars or even just be a mood enhancer – for years! The magic is created by placing a transparent mirror over a screen such as a tablet, monitor, or TV. The technology is driven by a Raspberry Pi or Windows PC, combined with voice recognition and touch technology. If you don’t want to buy one, here’s another step-by-step guide to make yours at home.
Smart mirrors in high-end boutiques and people’s homes could just be the start. I’m excited to see an increase in adoption of smart mirrors in the near future. I think it can have mass appeal, not just for beauty and skincare enthusiasts but also for people who love using smart devices in their lives. The fact that everything can be integrated through the same technology could mean a more seamless experience for us as consumers. To me, the most fascinating thing about these inventions is the integration of voice command features via a smart assistant. I feel that heightens the overall digital experience of using a truly smart device. And it makes you realize how imaginative the Brothers Grimm really were!