Skip to main content

New York Times ‘magic mirror’ brings email, news, Facebook into the bathroom


Designed by the research and development lab at the New York Times, a team has been working on a mirror that delivers media content to the user while spending time in the bathroom. Likely utilizing a Phillips Mirror TV, the display is tied into a Microsoft Kinect sensor that sits at the top of the mirror. Using voice recognition and motion sensing from the Kinect, the television allows the user to browse through the latest news headlines in the New York Times as well as check a calendar for appointments, read email and take a look at the latest updates on Facebook or Twitter. The user can also check the weather, a helpful tool for anyone getting ready to leave the house for the day.

The mirror also have the ability to scan RFID tags and bring up information about a sample product. For instance, if you had a medication and were unclear of the proper dosage, holding it up to the mirror would supply this information as well as offer the ability to reorder the drug if it was acquired through a prescription. When it comes to online clothes shopping, the mirror used the Kinect camera to scan an image of a user’s body type and allows the user to overlay clothing items on the body image to virtually try on clothes before purchasing them.

Related Videos

While the mirror is currently still a prototype, facial recognition through the mirror would work easily with the Kinect system. It’s possible that a user could walk into a bathroom shared with multiple members of the family, but the facial recognition recognizes the user and automatically logs in to check email as well as work with home automation to dim lighting or heat the shower water to a specific temperature. This technology can also be used around the house and in public spaces to provide helpful terminals. Check out the video below:

Editors' Recommendations

The next big thing in science is already in your pocket
A researcher looks at a protein diagram on his monitor

Supercomputers are an essential part of modern science. By crunching numbers and performing calculations that would take eons for us humans to complete by ourselves, they help us do things that would otherwise be impossible, like predicting hurricane flight paths, simulating nuclear disasters, or modeling how experimental drugs might effect human cells. But that computing power comes at a price -- literally. Supercomputer-dependent research is notoriously expensive. It's not uncommon for research institutions to pay upward of $1,000 for a single hour of supercomputer use, and sometimes more, depending on the hardware that's required.

But lately, rather than relying on big, expensive supercomputers, more and more scientists are turning to a different method for their number-crunching needs: distributed supercomputing. You've probably heard of this before. Instead of relying on a single, centralized computer to perform a given task, this crowdsourced style of computing draws computational power from a distributed network of volunteers, typically by running special software on home PCs or smartphones. Individually, these volunteer computers aren't particularly powerful, but if you string enough of them together, their collective power can easily eclipse that of any centralized supercomputer -- and often for a fraction of the cost.

Read more
Why AI will never rule the world
image depicting AI, with neurons branching out from humanoid head

Call it the Skynet hypothesis, Artificial General Intelligence, or the advent of the Singularity -- for years, AI experts and non-experts alike have fretted (and, for a small group, celebrated) the idea that artificial intelligence may one day become smarter than humans.

According to the theory, advances in AI -- specifically of the machine learning type that's able to take on new information and rewrite its code accordingly -- will eventually catch up with the wetware of the biological brain. In this interpretation of events, every AI advance from Jeopardy-winning IBM machines to the massive AI language model GPT-3 is taking humanity one step closer to an existential threat. We're literally building our soon-to-be-sentient successors.

Read more
The best hurricane trackers for Android and iOS in 2022
Truck caught in gale force winds.

Hurricane season strikes fear into the hearts of those who live in its direct path, as well as distanced loved ones who worry for their safety. If you've ever sat up all night in a state of panic for a family member caught home alone in the middle of a destructive storm, dependent only on intermittent live TV reports for updates, a hurricane tracker app is a must-have tool. There are plenty of hurricane trackers that can help you prepare for these perilous events, monitor their progress while underway, and assist in recovery. We've gathered the best apps for following storms, predicting storm paths, and delivering on-the-ground advice for shelter and emergency services. Most are free to download and are ad-supported. Premium versions remove ads and add additional features.

You may lose power during a storm, so consider purchasing a portable power source,  just in case. We have a few handy suggestions for some of the best portable generators and power stations available. 

Read more