The Smile Mirror for cancer patients is getting a ton of blowback online

smile mirror
File this one under, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

A new invention by a Brooklyn-based product and experience designer with good intentions is drawing online fury, most fiercely by the very people the invention was meant to help. Berk Ilhan is the creator behind the “Smile Mirror,” a new gadget intended to lift the spirits of cancer patients. As advertised, the mirror will reveal a patient’s reflection, but only if they smile.

smile mirror cancer patients 1
1263974 autosave v1 mirror 2

While attending the School of Visual Arts in New York, Ilhan developed a year-long thesis project called Uplift, which involved conceptualizing a portfolio of products designed to improve the quality of life of cancer patients, emotionally and socially. In addition to the mirror, Ilhan also conceived a newspaper that only delivers the good and happy news.

The electronic mirror is outfitted with a built-in camera and an opaque surface that is triggered by facial recognition software. The patent-pending invention intended to gift patients a smile will soon launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Right now, the unit costs between $2,000 and $3,000, but Ilhan would like to see a final price closer to $500.

Ilhan, originally from Turkey, spent time at cancer hospitals in there speaking with patients, doctors and caregivers. The final device was inspired by Ilhan’s encounter with a cancer survivor. His ultimate goal is to donate Smile Mirrors to hospitals.

“She told me in the first days after her diagnosis, it was difficult for her to look in the mirror and acknowledge she had cancer,” he told CNN Tech. “Our facial expressions affect how we feel. If we flex our facial muscles to smile, our brains think that something good happened and as a result, happiness.”

The reaction to the breaking story has not been hospitable, despite Ilhan’s good intentions. At IFLScience, we find the headline, “This mirror for cancer patients only works when you smile, and everyone thinks it’s a terrible idea.” Bustle calls it,”An incredibly misguided idea.” The New Stateman‘s headline reads: “The mirror that forces cancer patients to smile is borderline dystopian.”

At Slate, cancer survivor and technology writer Jacob Brogan gets to the heart of the matter.

“This is, again, not a device designed with the interests of patients in mind,” he writes. “To the contrary, it asks them to ignore — perhaps even to reject — the small sanctuary of what they feel within. Cancer is already alienating, and this is alienation of another sort. Etymologically, the word patient derives from a Latinate root meaning suffering. Those who love us can attempt to ameliorate our pain, but they should never expect us to live without it. If you would like to see us smile, tell us a joke. Surely you know the ones we like. We will laugh if we are ready to, but our smiles are not yours to claim.”

Product Review

Putting on the grits with the Instant Pot pressure cooker

If you want to dip your toe into the low-temperature waters of sous vide, the Anova precision cooker is a good way to start. It has a robust app and an easy-to-use interface that just may convert you to a whole new way of cooking.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The 10 best 'Black Mirror' episodes are thought-provoking, disturbing, mesmerizing

After watching all 19 episodes across four seasons and one special, we've selected and ranked the best Black Mirror episodes released so far. Read on to find out if your favorite episode from the award-winning Netflix series made the list.
Smart Home

ConnectSense’s next plug iteration makes a home smart without a hub

The newest smart outlet in the ConnectSense line of smart home products not only provides a dual plug but can also operate independently of a smart home home, allowing users to control devices directly through an app.
Smart Home

Instant Pots! Get your Instant Pot! 5 models are on sale now at Amazon

Consumers win big when Amazon pops deals on popular products like Instant Pots. Five Instant Pot models on sale range from $30 to $60 off. If you've been waiting to buy an Instant Pot for a holiday gift, this could be the time.
Smart Home

The C By GE Smart LED Bulbs Work Seamlessly With Google Home

The Smart Light Starter Kit contains a smart lightbulb and a Google Home Mini. For those seeking to try out smart lights in their home, it's a great option and is currently on sale for just $35 through Google.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.
Deals

Best deals on home security cameras to save you from package thieves

Home security camera systems can help keep your home and your family safe. Amazon's deals on Blink security cameras and Ring Video Doorbells also help you save money on devices you can access regardless of your current location.
Smart Home

Google Store sale is on now through December 24!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 may be history, but fans of Google hardware including the popular Google Home Hub, Pixel 3 and 3XL mobile phones still have lots of deals in store -- the Google Store, that is.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Smart Home

Porch pirate problems? Keep them away with these tips and tricks

The holiday season is fast approaching and the packages are arriving on our doorsteps. Are you worried about porch pirates stealing your gifts this holiday season? Here are some tips to help protect your purchases.
Deals

Walmart is offering Google Home starter kits for under $50

If you're hoping to save big on Google Home devices before all the holiday deals come to an end, there's no better time than right now. Walmart is slashing prices on smart home starter kits for a limited time.