What is a Smart Mirror?

Every device today seems to have a ‘smart’ version of it. There are smart watches, smart TVs, smart fridges, smart speakers, and even smart lights. Let’s have a look at an interesting smart device, the smart mirror.

A Smart Mirror is a two-way mirror with an inbuilt display behind the glass. The display can show anything you want on the mirror’s surface such as the current time, weather forecast, news feed, upcoming appointments, and more. 

Smart mirrors can come in all sizes from small table mirrors, to full bathroom mirrors. Smart mirrors are sometimes called ‘Magic’ Mirrors, but they both refer to the same thing.

The below photo is the smart mirror I built for my bathroom:

Large smart mirror in bathroom

This website will explain everything I learned building this mirror so you can build one yourself based on your needs.

What Can A Smart Mirror Do?

What makes a Smart Mirror ‘smart’ is the ability to display any information you want on it. A smart mirror can be customized to display local weather forecasts, news bulletins, your upcoming calendar schedule, social media feeds, etc.

It’s possible to even add voice commands using Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home Assistant. With voice commands you can ask your mirror questions, set reminders, or control other smart devices in your home.

As an example of what a smart mirror can do, this is what mine displays when I walk into my bathroom:

  • Current day, date and time
  • Current weather and forecast for the week
  • Satire news feed headlines
  • My Google calendar

A smart mirror can easily be customized to include whatever information you want. There are many people online building custom modules and code to get smart mirrors to do different things.

How Do Smart Mirrors Work?

There are three components of a smart mirror: a two-way mirror, a display, and a computer device. Let’s look at each part and how they run the smart mirror.

Two-Way Mirror: A normal mirror has a film behind the glass that reflects 100% of incoming light. This means when you look at a mirror, you see your reflection. A two-way mirror reflects light from one direction, but allows light to pass through from the other direction.

You’ve probably seen two-way mirrors in the movies in police interrogation rooms. Smart mirrors use two-way mirrors to allow the light from the display to pass through the mirror.

Display: behind the two-way mirror sits a monitor screen/TV/tablet. This is used to display any information or modules for your smart mirror. The display can be the same size as the mirror, or it can be smaller than the mirror.

Throughout this site you’ll see different sized displays used in smart mirrors.

Computer: something has to run the content you see on your smart mirror. A small computer device such as a Raspberry Pi is more than enough to power a smart mirror.

The type of computer device you need depends on what you want your smart mirror to do.

Advantages of a Smart Mirror

Like many smart devices, it’s hard to imagine how useful they can be until you use one. The big advantage of a smart mirror is the ability to display useful information without needing to open apps or do anything.

You simply look at your smart mirror and the information is there.

For example, imagine the mirror in your bathroom is a smart mirror. Every morning you probably wake up and stand in front of that mirror as you brush your teeth or prepare for the day.

Imagine while you go through your morning routine you can look at your mirror and see a traffic report, weather forecast for the day, and your day’s schedule.

Being able to take in all of this useful information without interrupting your normal routine is very liberating. You can customize your mirror to display anything you find useful.

Want a news feed for specific topics? Easy. Want to see stock price movements? Done. Want a daily quote to inspire you every morning to go for that run? You got it.

A great advantage of building your own smart mirror is the modules and software other people have already built. There are literally hundreds of different modules other people have built you can use for your smart mirror.

You can fully customize your smart mirror by picking and choosing the modules you want to include.

A Great Home Feature

The smart mirror I have in my bathroom is the most talked about feature in my home – by far. My friend and family talk about it more than the hidden doorway I built into a bookshelf or the pinball machine I built.

Everybody who sees it for the first time always runs out of the bathroom with a big grin on their face as they can’t believe what they just saw.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but I assure you it isn’t.

When somebody walks into my bathroom, this is what they see:

Large smart mirror with LEDs in bathroom

As they walk in the bathroom, a sensor in the mirror immediately turns the LEDs around the edge of the mirror on, lighting up the entire room.

The above photo was taken at night with the mirror the only source of lighting.

As they walk to the mirror, the smart display turns on, revealing whatever I have set it up to display.

The above photo doesn’t adequately demonstrate how impressive this simple device makes my bathroom look.

Some friends say it gives my house a futuristic feeling. I feel it makes my bathroom look far better than it was before and for a lot cheaper than a typical bathroom renovation.

The point I want to stress is that when done properly, a smart mirror can be a great feature in your home.

Smart Mirror Features

The great thing about building your own smart mirror is you can customize it to your own needs.

Here are some ideas of different features you could include in your smart mirror:

  • Touch screen: adding touch to your smart mirror let’s you interact with it
  • LED lighting: a simple LED strip around your smart mirror can add some nice feature lighting to your room
  • Motion sensor: turn your smart mirror on automatically when you enter your room
  • Voice control: ask your mirror questions or give it commands
  • Facial recognition: your mirror can detect who is in the room and customize the content to match each person

As you can see, you have a lot of flexibility over your smart mirror. You’ll find articles and information across this website on different ways you can set up your smart mirror and customize it to your needs.

Smart Mirror with LED lighting

Is a Smart Mirror Hard to Build?

While it may sound complicated, it’s actually very simple to build a smart mirror. This website contains everything you need to know about building your own smart mirror.

Depending on what features you want in your smart mirror, you could build one completely in a weekend, or it might take you several weeks.

The step-by-step tutorials and articles on this website means you don’t need to understand programming to build a smart mirror. While smart mirrors are very new, plenty of people have build them over the last few years.

All of that knowledge is now available to you in the articles on this site.

If you’ve always imagined your home to have a more futuristic feel to it like shown in movies, building your own smart mirror is a great way to make it happen.