Imagine if the next time you checked yourself out in the mirror, your reflection showed you something that went further than skin-deep. Your daily primping and preening could take on an entirely new level of import in our lives, serving as a first line in our bid to catch potential health flags before they become serious.This may soon become reality in a not-so-distant future.
As part of the Quantified Living trend from our Future of Home Living report, we highlight a mirror prototype developed by Ming-Zher Poh, an electrical engineer in the Affective Computing Group at the MIT Media Lab, that is able to monitor vital signs and show the inner health of the person standing in front of it. a When your heart beats, it sends a pulse of blood through your blood vessels and to your face. Because blood absorbs light, the mirror is able to use a simple webcam, the same as the one found in your laptop, to record the fluctuation in reflected light coming off your skin. Although the change in brightness is minute, the data can then be translated into a heart-rate reading via algorithm, and the results are instantly displayed right before a person’s eyes, empowering individuals to take the management of their wellness into their own hands.
As Poh and his team note in an early study for the mirror, “As ordinary people start to have access and control over their own physiological data, they can play a more active role in the management of their health. This revolution must take place in our everyday lives, not just in the doctor’s office or research lab.” By taking an everyday object and upgrading it with the technology to passively track a person’s vitals, our homes now have the capacity to become caretakers, ensuring our comfort and wellbeing.
Technologies like Ming-Zher Poh’s Smart Mirror and others like it fall under the larger theme we’re calling Equilibrium, which points to the way architects and designers are integrating feelings of balance, health, and well-being into people’s living spaces and everyday lives.
PSFK has announced the latest in a series of trend reports. Following studies into retail, social media, gaming, work and mobile, the PSFK Labs consulting team have generated the Future of Home Living report. That report manifests as a free summary presentation, an in-depth downloadable PDF and an exhibition in New York City that runs to August 16.
RSVP below to take a tour of the exhibition at 101W15th.