It’s only a matter of time before all manner of objects in our homes and other environments get the smart gadget treatment, turning them from static or decorative elements into new ways to connect to the virtual world. Decades ago, most of us never imagined that one day we’d be able to carry entire rooms worth of music in our pockets, video chat our friends or control the lighting and temperature in our homes from afar. What’s right around the corner in terms of technological advancement? Here’s one potential answer to that question.
Chances are, you gaze into a mirror several times a day, likely just long enough to groom or check your appearance. They’re already on the wall, so why not ask them to do more? That’s the idea behind the ‘Apple Mirror,’ a fully functional prototype created by industrial designer Rafael Dymek.
Based on Apple’s iOS 10 operating system, the smart mirror basically looks like a gigantic iPad mounted to a vertical surface, maintaining the appearance of its desktop covered in icons for apps and other functions. A digital clock is displayed in the upper right corner, with a calendar and weather info in the left.
In addition to the usual apps you’d see on any other Apple device, you can access smart home functions to turn lights on and off in various rooms and keep an eye on which doors in your house are unlocked. The device looks and works like an ordinary mirror when it’s not in use, and you can simply tap it to activate it.
Dymek says he got inspiration for the prototype after watching his girlfriend scramble to locate her phone so she could multitask while applying makeup in front of a mirror. That made him envision the ability to pull up Facebook or iMessage, check the weather or summon an Uber all while getting ready to leave the house, saving time. It’s not hard to envision a scenario in which the Apple Mirror would be helpful, especially for people who rush off to work early in the morning or have problems being habitually late.
As you can see in the video above, the Apple Mirror actually works. It’s an intriguing idea, and not entirely superfluous to televisions since most mirrors are longer than they are wide, making it awkward to watch full-screen videos. In recent years, tablets have declined in popularity, with most people preferring to use their phones instead. Could a device like the Apple Mirror fill a gap in the market blending video, social media, iMessaging and other functions with high readability, touch screen capability and the ability to look at it while your hands are busy doing other things?
Considering that smart homes have been slow to catch on, it’s hard to say. Not everyone wants to pack their homes full of expensive gadgets that quickly become obsolete when keeping up with the latest iPhone is hard enough. But if futuristic films and TV shows are any indication, larger touch-screen devices (especially those incorporating gesture-based commands) are inevitable, and potentially useful. Only time — and Apple’s research and development team — will tell.