Interactive Mirror Brings Big Brother Into Your Bathroom

The R&D department of The New York Times created a Kinect-based interactive mirror that is able to recognize the products that are placed in front of the cameras.

New York Times R&D Lab: Health and the “magic mirror” from Nieman Journalism Lab on Vimeo.

Brian House, The Times Co.’s Creative Technologist for R&D, figured out that it would not hurt to have a Snow White-like mirror in the bathroom, since we spend a bit of time brushing our teeth, using the facilities and bathing ourselves. Of course, we have all seen shower booths that feature FM tuners, but this mirror is meant to take news delivery, entertainment and information access to the next level (along with spying, if things ever go wrong). Also, the concept reminds me of a Youtube video that explored the ways glass could be turned into interactive devices in the future. It also resembles Microsoft’s Surface, to some extent.

As seen in the above video, the Kinect is found on the right side of the mirror frame. At the base of the mirror there are several shortcuts for:

  • Calendar
  • Health
  • News
  • Social
  • Weather

Hence, you get instant access to the latest news, your scheduled appoints for the current and future day, weather forecast and even (presumably) to the social networks that you use. What is more impressive, though, is the capability of the interactive mirror to display usage information about Claritin, when a box is waved in front of the cameras.

In the second video, Brian House showcases the voice-recognition capabilities of the interactive mirror. Upon being prompted to display a tie, the mirror detects House’s face and aligns the tie accordingly, while also matching the color of the tie to his outfit. Therefore, this device could prove to be useful for fashion addicts, too.

The title of this post may have a hint of paranoia to it, but an Internet connected device based on the Kinect sensor, which has 2 cameras, would certainly seem appealing to some hackers. If this interactive mirror ever gets into mass production, then it would better have some really good security features.

If you liked this post, please check the possible connection between Kinect and health care and the Kinectshop.