Smart mirror

All of us are using a mirror in our daily life, either in vehicles or in home to see our images for setting our hairstyle. So what? It is a very common thing. Right! But, what about a mirror that provides you more information rather than pictures or images. Today we are going to understand about the similar gadget that can provide weather, news, your emails, messages, and more. This is a ‘Smart Mirror’. A smart mirror may be a popular gadget in science fiction movies, but now they are real.

What is a Smart Mirror?

The smart mirror is like a normal mirror, it reflects images. However, as per the name Smart, it performs multiple functions like other smart gadgets: A smart mirror can display the weather, time date, news, and other data. It can even show video clips for entertainment and information. Some of the manufacturers made this smart mirror highly interactive with a touch screen feature. Not only do they look attractive and cool but also support a variety of applications. These are becoming more popular in homes and other commercial applications.

Inside Engineering of The Smart Mirror:

To understand the proper functioning of the smart mirror, we must first learn how a mirror functions.

Normal mirror:

A traditional mirror or normal mirror is making by using a process that is known as ‘silvering’. A coat of some kind of highly reflective material (either metallic or non-metallic) is applied to one side of the glass. A layer of copper is added to the top to prevent the oxidation of the metal. After that entire assemble is sealed with a coat of paint. This layer protects the internal reflecting layer and also prevents any light from passing through to the other side of the glass. When light passes through the glass it gets reflected and our image mirrored in the mirror.

Two-way mirror:

We have seen this kind of mirror in several movies where a criminal is being questioned in one room while police officers watch grimly from another. When the bad man looks at the mirror from one side, he only sees his mirrored image but the people in the adjoining room can keep an eye on his every move. Now, the question is that how is this accomplished? Well just like a regular mirror, two-way mirror is manufactured using reflective metal which, in most cases, is aluminum-like metals. However, these mirrors involve an extremely thin coating of reflective material. As of result, when light falls on the glass, some of it gets reflected while the remaining passes through to the other side of the mirror. Most probably you have noticed that the police officer’s room is very dark whereas the interrogation room has bright light. Since there is no light in the police officer’s room or observation room, light does not pass into the interrogation room, and hence the bad man is not able to see what is happening on the other side of the mirror. On the other side, the interrogation room is having bright light; it gets reflected into the interrogation room. That’s how in a two-way mirror, at one side person can see other sided person but not vice versa.

Two way mirror

Two way mirror

Now, it’s time to relate all these to the smart mirror. A smart mirror is an arrangement of a flat display like LCD or OLED behind a two-way mirror. Only the light coming from the display screen is visible to the user present on the other side. The size of the display unit varies according to the intended functions of the smart mirror.

A smart mirror contains below electronic units to perform several functions:

  1. Display
  2. Control board
  3. Wireless adapters
  4. Power supply

Display:

This part of the gadget is present at one side of two-way mirror and it is mainly responsible to show information either in text or video form. This is generally LCD or OLED type. To attract more users, every manufacturer wants to provide a good and crystal clear display. Here display unit is getting all the required signals from the control board of the device.

Control Board:

The smart mirror is a kind of mini-computer system. This mini-computer control board contains a microprocessor-based circuit. The Control board performs several operations simultaneously and for its proper function, an operating system is required. Most of the control boards like Raspberry-Pi contain external memory drive connectivity to store operating systems as well as related applications. The Control board performs operations based on installed software (as per user requirement). It also provides connectivity between wireless adapters and applications to perform their work successfully.

Raspberry Pi - Milestone in the world of control boards

Raspberry Pi – Milestone in the world of control boards

Wireless Adapters:

In this gadget, the wireless module provides Wi-Fi connectivity and most commonly uses ESP8266 Wi-Fi adapter. This adapter is a self-contained SOC (System On Chip) with an integrated TCP/IP protocol stack that can provide internet connectivity to this gadget via a control board.

Power adapter:

This unit provides a power supply to operate the various hardware units. It converts the input AC to output DC.  This unit also provides power to recharge the chargeable battery for this smart mirror (if any battery is present to provide power in case of failure of the main power supply). The internal circuit of the power adapter is almost similar to your laptop charger. It provides power to the control board, wireless adapters, display unit, and other internal units.

Working:

When the smart mirror turns into an ON state, all the applications are running on a fully-fledged operating system like LINUX, start working, and send the fetched and processed information to the display unit. The display unit is present behind the one side of two-way mirror. And this side is only visible from the other side of the mirror which is the user side. That’s how this mirror is becoming a digital newspaper for you to provide weather info, news headlines, and much more.

Applications:

Smart mirrors, one of the applications in the IoT are, can be used in home technology, fashion sector, retail sectors, and more. You can also use this mirror in your home and it will become your assistant for the outer world. Smart mirror has many applications. Once you start using it, you will become a fan of this gadget.

Thanks for reading. See you soon with another exploration!

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