How Do Smart Mirrors Work?

What exactly is a smart mirror and how does it work?

A smart mirror may be a popular gadget in sci-fi movies, but it’s 2017 now - they’re real! Like a normal mirror, a smart mirror too reflects images. However, it does a lot of other things as well. For example: A smart mirror can display the weather, time, date, news and other data. It can even show video clips for informational and entertainment purposes. Some high-end smart mirrors are interactive and feature touch screen displays. Smart mirrors add a futuristic touch to any setting. Not only are they cool but also support a variety of applications. These are becoming increasing popular in homes and other commercial settings.

In order to understand how smart mirrors work, we must first learn how a normal mirror functions.

Normal Mirror: A traditional mirror is manufactured using a procedure known as 'silvering’. A coat of some kind of highly reflective metallic material is applied to one side of a glass. A layer of copper is added on top to prevent the oxidation of metal. The entire assembly is then sealed with a coat of paint. This protects the inner reflective layers and also prevents any light from passing through to the other side of the glass. Simply put, a normal mirror consists of nothing but a piece of glass that is fixed on to some kind of metal, silver, nickel or tin. When light passes through the glass it gets reflected back and hence the image gets 'mirrored’ in it.

Two Way Mirror: Surely, you’ve seen a police interrogation scene in movies. It usually involves a criminal being questioned in one room while police officers watch grimly from another. When the bad guy looks at the mirror from his side, he only sees his reflection but the people in the adjoining room can keep an eye on his every move. So how is this accomplished? Well, just like a regular mirror, a two way mirror is also manufactured using reflective metal which, in most cases, is aluminum. However, two way mirrors involve a very thin of reflective coating. This way, when light falls on the glass, some of it gets reflected back while the remaining passes through to the other side. You might have noticed that the interrogation is very brightly lit while the observation room is very dark. Since there is next to no light in the observation room, it does not pass into the interrogation room and hence the criminal cannot see what’s happening on the other side. On the other hand, the interrogation room has plenty of light. Even though some light gets reflected back into the room (criminal sees own image), a lot of it passes through the two way mirror into the dark observation room, thus enabling the officers to 'look’ through it.

What does all of this have to do with smart mirrors?

A smart mirror is an arrangement of a display behind a two-way mirror. Only the light from the display screen is visible on the other side. The size of the display varies according the intended functions of the smart mirror. Here is an even simpler explanation: Stand in very bright light and look into the screen of your mobile phone or flat-screen TV or computer monitor. If you dim the screen brightness, you’ll be able to see your own reflection in it. At the same time, the images or video displayed on the screen can also be seen by you. The same principles apply to smart mirrors. Of course, the technology is quite complex. A smart mirror is tweaked to display brighter, sharper reflections. Advanced smart mirrors, such as the ones manufactured by Premio Inc are incredibly complex. They’re highly interactive and can perform a variety of applications such as:

  1. Retail Stores: Customers in clothing retail outlets can take photos of how they look in several different outfits. They can then compare all photos and select the outfits that they like most.
  2. Pop-up stores: A smart mirror is a powerful crowd puller at pop-up stores. It appeals to people's natural curiosity and can help pop-ups go 'viral’ within a certain locality, generating a large amount of sales in a very short period of time.
  3. Shopping Malls: As mentioned above, smart mirrors possess a certain novelty factor and have the potential to radically increase footfalls to shopping malls. This does not mean that smart mirrors will become redundant after the novelty value wears off! On the contrary, it means that they’ll become the norm. People will become so used to them that they won’t be able to do without them. A smart screen enables strategic positioning of messages in a non-obtrusive manner. This is great for business, while also greatly enhancing consumer experience.
  4. Hotels: Hotels, Resorts and luxury properties can take hospitality to new heights by installing smart mirrors in rooms and restrooms. This way, customers can watch TV in the bathroom mirror while lounging in a hot tub with a bottle of champagne. They can even use the mirrors to summon room service, order food, control lighting and so on.
  5. Bridal Stores and Boutiques: Smart mirrors can turn an ordinary shopping experience into a memorable one. Aspiring brides tend to visit several stores before deciding upon one. Obviously, they’ll be drawn to the store that made the best impression – that is, the one with the smartest mirror!
  6. Movie Theaters: Smart mirrors can display trailers, advertisements, food and beverage options and snippets of other info.

In just a few years, every mirror will be a smart mirror, just as almost each and every mobile phone on the planet has become a smart phone. This will open the door to infinite possibilities. For example: Retail stores will feature smart mirrors with microcomputers that observe and analyze customer behavior. Smart mirror analytics will help to stores to understand their customers much better. Smart mirrors at homes will display the day’s schedule when people wake up and look into them every morning. They’ll even offer to call an Uber if the person is running late!