NY Time's R&D Lab Brings Voice-Activated Computing To The Bathroom Mirror

Brad Chacos

Ah, the bathroom. Those little bursts of personal time are some of the best moments of the day, an all-too-brief period when screaming kids and jerk coworkers leave you alone and the worries of real life fade away, letting you game on your smartphone in peace. Well, at least until you plunk that smartphone into the toilet, that is. The New York Times R&D Lab’s hard at work to make sure that your Android keeps dry; it's whipped up a “Magic Mirror” designed to help you get a hands-free Interwebs fix in the john.

All right, the tech’s more of a move to boost advertising revenue rather than a goodwill “Save your Nexus!” campaign. ExtremeTech , reporting on an article from the Nieman Journalism Lab , says the Magic Mirror’s built around the Microsoft Kinect, RFID sensors (to recognize your bath care products), and an unnamed reflective display that the is probably the Philips Mirror TV.  Some sort of computer obviously powers the thing, as well.

Basically, the magic mirror is a large computer monitor with voice recognition technology. The display will let you browse New York Times videos and articles, obviously, but that’s not all; you’ll also be able to schedule appointments on your calendar, shop online and leave messages for other members of the household. Then there’s the really cool real-world interaction stuff.

In the demo, the Magic Mirror recognizes a prescription thanks to an embedded RFID chip and brings its usage directions up onscreen. Additionally, you’ll be able to ask the mirror to find coupons for the RFID-embedded items you use in your bathroom simply by asking it to do so. The NYT R&D Lab says that other prototype models are even able to match articles of clothing with other items in your wardrobe, guaranteeing that you’ll never run into an embarrassing mis-match situation again.

It sounds cool, but there isn’t any words on when – or if – the Magic Mirror will hit the streets. Check out the Nieman Lab link for videos of the nifty display in action.

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