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Summary:

What does a $200 dollar make-up mirror that uses LED lights, charges via a USB, and has built-in sensors have to do with the connected future? A lot actually.

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sensor-mirror-01A mirror with sensors is a signpost of a future where all devices, however mundane and dumb, can use sensors, connectivity and software smarts to turn the mundane into magical. I had that thought earlier this morning when I came across this Sensor Mirror made by simplehuman, a Los Angeles company that is known for making trash cans, soap pumps and sundry other stuff for your kitchen and the bathroom.

Our sensor mirror lights up automatically as your face approaches. Its tru-lux light system simulates natural sunlight, allowing you to see full color variation, so you’ll know when your makeup is color-correct and flawless.

Sure, the $200 mirror has a whole lot of features like LED lights and a USB charger, but what I find exciting is what could be done. If simplehuman added a low-power Wi-Fi chip to this mirror they could turn this mirror into an object of daily engagement. About two years ago, I wrote this piece, “Why the future of hardware is services.”

To me, services are a way for hardware owners to increase engagement with their gadgets. When I first got Sonos, I listened to my own library of music. Then I signed up for Internet radio stations, and lately, I’ve been testing Spotify’s streaming service. Result? It’s now playing in the background, pretty much all the time. I think in our device-infested and attention-deprived lives, services — if built well — foster constant and ongoing engagement.

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The mirror could connect to the internet and it could also talk to an app that is installed on your iPhone or Android device. The sensor can “sense” your face and instantly offer recommendations (or make-up tips) based on how you look on a given day or evening. Those tips could come from make-up professionals.

For guys, it could just be — dude, you missed shaving that bit in your cleft — notice that could turn them into fanatical fans of the mirror. I know I would love to be reminded that I missed a spot.

The fact is that by offering a uniquely/hyper personal experience, simplehuman can go from being an invisible brand to one that is center stage in our minds. Think of it this way — connectivity and sensors allow us  to turn any large-scale platform into a personal one.

Call me crazy, by when we add a dash of connectivity to those omnipresent sensors then interesting and/or magical things can happen.

  1. To make it reality we have to rethink the Operating Systems, which are still based on organizing files. Currently we might end up with face recognition for the mirror, another one for the phone, anther one for the tv …. All slightly different and behaving ever so slightly different, requiring you to adjust to their idiosyncrasies. Which will get really annoying really fast. On Android this can be seen in voice recognition from Samsung, Google or Swype if one switches between devices with different keyboards and versions running.

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  2. @om Great points you make in this article. A big, big piece of this connected future (IoT) is security of these devices.
    5 years ago, my “attack surface” was a connected desktop, and a laptop. 3 years back I added a smartphone, tablet & PS3 and now my TV and receiver are also connected…you get the idea.

    Say, my refrigerator was connected a hacker could potentially raise its temp by a few degrees until the can of milk spoils and make me go to the market to get another one, leaving my place potentially “unguarded”. This gives him control not just over my device but also my behavior!

    It would be really interesting IMHO to see an article on how manufactures and designers of these devices are dealing with this from a futuristic sense and how they perceive tackling this problem.

    Thanks,
    Sunil

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  3. Indeed. I recently installed a Nest thermostat in my house and was amazed by the use of a motion sensor to determine when I was at home or away. The Nest system automagically optimises temperatures in your home based on information it gathers from you by when you adjust the temperature and when you are at home. It adjusts as you change through the seasons. Connected to WiFi, it also determines when you can save money by reducing the thermostat or let you access it from you iPhone.

    Sensors and communications will make the most mundane appliances and controls more engaging.

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  4. Who needs some dude living in your ‘fairy tale mirror’ when you can invite the whole world in to comment on how you truly are, ‘the fairest of them all!’ :)

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  5. But you don’t need the mirror for this,the phone/tablet can do it, The camera and screen would need to be calibrated (the mirror has no screen but it’s cam would need proper calibration). In fact the phone by being a screen can have more functionality , like zoom in to help you be more precise in shaving or applying make-up.
    No idea if there are such apps but i assume there must be. They could also show you looks based on diff hairstyles, diff make-up, different lighting conditions, adjust music playlist based on your mood and ss on.
    Don’t see much upside in the mirror itself ( might be bigger but it’s less mobile so less convenient) and connecting it to the phone seems pointless, it’s advantage could be to be able to display info too and be used as a security cam.
    Then again that’s not the point here, services do add value but most price them in an unfavorable way, a mirror that sells makeup,hats, glasses ,jewelry to support the services would be fine,one that costs 10$/ month is just crazy

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