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A Smart Mirror That Could Diagnose Ilness

Author Nicholas DeRenzo Illustration Jameson Simpson


“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the illest one of all?” That might sound a bit like an old-school rap lyric, but the question is, in fact, one that Europe’s top medical researchers are currently tackling. An international team called Semeoticons, culled from 11 European research institutes across seven countries, is working on a potentially groundbreaking new smart device called the Wize Mirror, which could one day be used to monitor your health and diagnose cardiovascular disorders in the comfort of your own bathroom. The premise? Just look into your mirror for one minute each morning and receive a near-instantaneous health reading. The touchscreen gadget will use multispectral cameras, gas sensors, and 3-D scanners to collect data in such areas as weight gain or loss, blood oxygen levels, and stress, and then highlight potential risk factors. Currently in the design phase, the mirror will hopefully enter test trials as early as next year. Here, a step-by-step guide to how channeling your inner Narcissus could one day reflect very well on your long-term health.

1. First, five multispectral cameras—picking up both ultraviolet and visible light waves—inspect the skin and look for minute changes in complexion. The visible light is used to analyze blood vessels in the face to gather information on heart rate and hemoglobin levels. Ultraviolet light is used to measure cholesterol deposits in the skin, a sign of high glucose levels that can in turn be an indicator of future Type 2 diabetes.

2. Next, the built-in 3-D scanner analyzes facial shape and checks if the user has lost or gained weight. Facial recognition software then picks up subtle shifts in your appearance, including ones that might indicate signs of anxiety or stress—say, bags under the eyes, clenched jaws, or knit brows. 

3. Finally, when the user exhales, the mirror’s so-called Wize Sniffer analyzes the breath for various gases. The sensor looks for high concentrations of sugars, which can indicate an increased risk of diabetes, and also checks for noxious chemicals that indicate how much you’ve been indulging in bad habits like smoking and drinking.

4. Taking into account all the collected data, the mirror then comes up with a numerical score to represent your overall health for the day and indicates whether you’ve recorded a net loss or gain since the previous check-up.  

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