The LCD Electronic Mirror

27 July 2008 at 0:47 | Posted in Electronic mirror, Inventions, LCD mirror, Mirror | Leave a comment
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[Category: Inventions. If you are new to my blog please read the “About itimes3” page first]

This morning I looked in the mirror and was wondering what I would look like with a different haircut. This is not normally something I wonder a lot about, but this time I did and I was frustrated that I could not see myself with that new haircut in the mirror, right there and then.

Now I know that there are software programs and websites that do this kind of thing, you can snap a photo of yourself and upload it and then you can play around with different haircuts. But that’s really for girls and I’m a guy and I’m busy and I can’t be bothered with that kind of time consuming¬†software, uploads, manipulations on screen, mucking around with unwieldy software or websites. This kind of thing should be easy and quick. It is time for a more profound change to be implemented in virtually every home on the planet!

When I was in school I remember a teacher showing us pupils an image of an Egyptian lady looking at herself in a handheld mirror. Someone carved this image in stone some three thousand years B.C.

For some reason I still remember seeing that image, and it is probably because it struck me that today we use mirrors in exactly the same way, and they are made almost exactly the same. The technology of the mirror has not changed in the past 5000 years or so.

However, with large LCD panels dropping in price rapidly, this is probably about to change, if someone in a relevant industry out there takes up the following idea ūüėČ

What would be required is a good quality LCD panel of the size and dimensions of a (wall-mounted) mirror (depending on personal preference that can be a normal “over the bathroom sink” mirror or a full-length one).

In addition to that, at least one camera but it would be best to position a number of cameras along the edges of the entire panel, and generate a computer-corrected composite image of all the cameras. This image will then be projected onto the LCD panel, thus creating the electronic mirror.

So far, nothing really new: instead of seeing our image in a traditional mirror in an amazingly high resolution, we see our image on a flat panel LCD display in a slightly lesser, but still very acceptable, resolution (until LCD displays – or their successors – catch up sometime in the next decade or two).

But here is where we can enhance the situation considerably: obviously, a computer will be built into the back or the frame of the LCD panel, and we will have either an on-mirror touch-screen control panel that can be called up by for example pressing a button on the frame of the panel, or a programmable touch-pad wireless remote control (think iPod Touch like device in terms of appearance and user interface).

Either of these interfaces will enable us to look at ourselves in the “mirror” and manipulate the image or extract information as required. Many different uses and enhancements will obviously be invented and added, but here are a few¬†examples that would immediately prove the electronic mirror’s worth over the traditional mirror:

  • Health analysis using infrared. The mirror could be programmed with health analysis software and provide advice based on infrared skin temperature readings, done with an infrared device mounted in its frame. It could detect fevers and skin conditions or skin heat patterns indicative of health problems, and report on those.
  • Skin cancer warning analysis. A full-length electronic mirror could be used to “scan” a user’s entire body and keep detailed images of any skin anomalies and moles. The user repeats the scan every few months for example, and the mirror reports on any moles or blemishes that have changed shape or grown etc.
  • Hair and clothes advice. Add-on packages to the mirror (in the form of for example Internet downloads into the mirror) could provide hairstyle and clothes imaging, so the user can see what different hairstyles and colours, as well as different clothes, look like on her or him. Once a choice is made, advice could be given on which merchant or online store can supply the desired haircut or clothes (and other devices, such as accessories). Immediate online ordering using the mirror could be made available.
  • Skin-tone analysis technology. Much like the more recent digital photo cameras can detect faces and even smiles on faces, the electronic mirror will be able to detect this and be able to analyze and follow a user’s skin tone and “health image” once this user is programmed into the device. The mirror can be programmed to “alarm” if the person looks too white, for example, and suggest changes in lifestyle or simply cosmetics to “fix” the issue.
  • Cosmetics advice. The electronic mirror could run software (which already exists) and project the effect of using certain brands and types of cosmetics, and provide advice. The mirror could be connected to a cosmetics printer (several of which are in development in Japan right now) and thus once the user is happy with the result in the mirror, decide to make it happen in reality using the cosmetics printer.
  • Measurements and check-ups. The electronic mirror would be able to measure the person in front of it (assuming full-height mirror) and calculate additional details such as body measurements at different heights and possibly even weight and body mass index (BMI) after a full scan of the person. It keeps track of the measurements as required and can project historic measurements onto itself to show the user.
  • Zoom, image manipulation, etc. The electronic mirror should enable the user to zoom in and out to parts of the image, distort and colour-change the image, invert it etc. – anything that may be required for designer, artistic, fun or other purposes.
  • Communications and output. The electronic mirror can obviously communicate with any other relevant devices such as printers, WLAN access points, bluetooth devices etc. as required to import and export image and other data.
  • Converged functionality. The electronic mirror, perhaps through optional upgrades, should enable usage as a photo and film camera, an Internet display, TV screen, computer screen, eletronic photo frame, eletronic art display, and anything else that can conceivably be added to its functionality.

I believe that within the next few years the cost of an LCD panel will come down to approximately the cost of a quality glass mirror of the same size. The required additional electronics (cameras, sensors, computer, WLAN receiver/transmitter) will add an acceptable amount to the cost, and overall, a decent-sized electronic mirror of above description should be affordable to almost anyone within several years from now.

All the technology required is readily available right now, it just needs to be combined into the right package, and prices of all components are coming down rapidly. Electronic mirror: your time has come!

If you like this idea and you work in a type of industry where this is relevant, I would be happy to discuss in more detail, answer questions or assist in other ways. For details and contact information please see the “About itimes3” page.

George Spark

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