Magic mirror: Show me the meds

The New York Times Research & Development Lab unveils a "magic mirror" that can be used to surf the Web, shop for hygiene and med products, and track weight changes.

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
2 min read

We've written about mirrors that tell us more than whether we have a piece of spinach stuck between our teeth. A year ago, a Harvard-MIT student showed off a mirror that's able to read certain vital signs.

New York Times Research & Development Lab

Now The New York Times Research & Development Lab is taking things a step further--bringing body tracking, shopping, news, and of course advertising to one's most intimate of places: the bathroom.

The group's "magic mirror" uses LCD and Kinect technology (it's really more of a computer with a reflective surface) that lets users browse the Web while brushing their teeth.

How is this better than using a smartphone in the bathroom? For one, it's hands-free. In fact, in the group's demo, one of the designers simply places a box of meds on the mirror's small ledge; it uses RFID tagging to recognize the type of meds and pull up information about dosages and where to buy more.

The mirror is also able to track one's body and clothes, in case the user wants to try something on hypothetically before committing to purchasing it. (As someone who hates shopping but doesn't trust that the dress will look as good on me as it does on the model, this is admittedly a cool feature.)

As for body tracking, this provides an interesting new way to measure weight gain or loss. Unlike a scale, the magic mirror could tell us where the weight is coming and going, and even whether there are resulting risk factors for certain conditions or diseases.

There's no word yet as to when this mirror might make its way to the general public, but it could be getting close given they're lifting the proverbial veil, which may or may not look be becoming on you.