Societal beauty standards change and evolve as often as technology, so what does a combination of the two look like? Magic Mirrors (also known as Smart Mirrors) are a relatively new area of technology that aims to integrate apps and content into the display of the mirror to deliver a unique and convenient experience. The applications of this for the beauty industry are huge, and in this article, we will take a deep dive into what they are, how they will affect the industry as a whole, and what are the possible consequences of this growth on society.
What are magic mirrors?
The technological section of Magic Mirrors has grown quite broad in their availability, with different sections of the industry delivering their niche offerings through the use of Magic Mirrors as a medium. In its simplest form, a Magic Mirror is a digital device connected to a custom mirror which can display visual elements alongside the reflection. This can be used to display information like weather, news, or messages on the mirror whilst you are using it to get ready.
This technology has also seen growth in the nightclub industry as a medium to allow guests to take group photos through the mirror, utilising the filters which have been seen across social media. Due to the internet connectivity of the device, users would be able to send themselves their photos right away. This has driven a lot of business to these venues thanks to the free advertising of having their club on social media.
Looking more into the beauty aspect of applications of this technology, some higher end fashion stores have been utilising this technology to overlay their clothes over the top of the reflection of customers to offer an easier alternative to changing rooms.
How are they affecting the industry?
In 2014 Zara opened up a Magic Mirror in their flagship store in Stratford, which featured a system that suggested other clothes to try based on what you are wearing. Customers are offered a unique and new shopping experience, while the business can suggest items that would suit the customer better, allowing them to shop much more efficiently and quickly.
As the use of this technology becomes more widespread across the industry, we could see such applications become standard amongst high street stores. With this, more innovation could lead to a wider array of personalisation of the store-specific applications run on the mirrors. These could be partnered alongside smartphone apps to allow a wider selection of users to be able to ‘try’ on new clothes at home before coming in-store.
The fashion industry isn’t the only area of beauty that is seeing the uses of Magic Mirrors affect them. Cosmetics is another branch that has seen applications of this technology used. The first main example of this came from Saks, Fifth Avenue department store in the US. They installed these Magic Mirrors in-store to allow their customers to try on their variety of cosmetic products before they bought, allowing for a more reflective look on how they would look on you than the testers on the hand.
Moving away from the business applications of this technology now, the consumer-end use of these products has also seen some growth. Over the past few years, the prices of consumer smart mirrors have come down, still a bit of a luxury item, but home DIY projects have started to become a lot more affordable for enthusiasts.
With mirrors being ubiquitous around the home, applications are varied. This can allow for different specs of mirrors to be installed in different rooms. For example, a lower-spec model for the bathroom for displaying basic functions like the news and weather. With a higher spec model for the bedroom where more apps and features would be required. With the wealth of information and development on the software development side of things, the future types of apps are endless as more people get involved.
What future applications are there for this technology?
With the growth of AR (Augmented Reality), the integration of this into Magic Mirrors could lead to a new era of video communication. Through the use of cameras on the mirrors, a new method of video calling can open up. Through the pandemic, we have witnessed a boom in the video calling market, with new ways of communication growing at a huge rate. Magic Mirrors can be a part of the growth by allowing people to communicate from different rooms of the house with the full family.
Possible future uses for this technology could be to combine the technology that overlays clothes into your own wardrobe, so that you will not only be able to see what’s in your closet but can also try it on without taking it out and causing a mess. This will be possible through the parallel advancements of these Magic Mirrors and the advancements in detection algorithms used in ML (Machine Learning) and Computer Vision.
Another possible niche growth area for this could be its applications to gaming. By using the systems that run on the Android platform, developers and designers can engineer games that utilise the uniqueness of the mirror to be able to provide an entirely new gaming experience for users. A whole new market of development might open up as a result.
A similar area of growth would be that of hospitality. In hotels, for example, these mirrors could be fitted with room controls and ordering services to improve guests’ experience and to present a modern approach to service, adding an interesting twist to your offerings. The use in nightclubs could be expanded past the group photos by utilising the possible effects with the reflections found in some clubs to enhance the visual experience of the events inside the club.
The Pros and Cons of this tech on society
With any emerging technology, it’s important to look at and analyse the pros and cons that it could have on our society, to better understand the technology and be armed with better knowledge to keep vigilant of the risks.
Accessibility is one of the primary benefits of this technology in society. Through the home integration of this technology, it would allow more people to interact with the world of beauty, opening up clothing suggestions to suit a diverse amount of people. This could allow the development of applications that can service those with disabilities to find appropriate fashion from home. Also, due to most hardware being built on the Android system, App development will accelerate alongside Mobile development, allowing for the use of any accessibility advancements through mobile. These advancements could hopefully benefit society by allowing more people access to the world of fashion. However, this advancement must also be alongside affordability as the technology gets more developed, to not have too high of a cost barrier to people.
A possible drawback of this technology on society is the possible added pressure on societal beauty standards. Through the advancements in filters and photoshopped images, the conventional view on beauty is being skewed and distorted. With this technology, there is a risk of this culture being accelerated. The constant looking at your own reflection in association with all these filters will just feed into these negative effects. This, however, is an avertable issue with this technology. By challenging the current negative beauty standards, and championing the diverse beauty of everyone, we can turn it into something beneficial and empowering.
Change is inevitable, but what we do and how we react can change the course of technological change for the better. Diversity and education at all levels are crucial in growing the use of this technology for progressive societal change. Technology is just a tool, it’s how we, as a society, can use it to improve the lives of everyone. Magic Mirrors can be adopted in a way to open the door for more people to be able to interact with the world and take part within the beauty industry in a progressive, diverse, and ethical way. To do so, we must be vigilant to call out and work against any toxic beauty standards or practices and champion the global beauty of this world.
We here at NetWorthPick would love to hear what your views on this technology are and how you think is best to adopt this, as a society, for good. Get in touch and let us know on the socials or down in the comment section below!
Nathaniel is a Web Design Executive who also writes content on technology and loves spending his days researching and building new projects, and generally complaining about new trends.