For those who must tear themselves away from gazing into the mirror in order to take a selfie, iStrategyLabs has come up with a solution. SELFIE is a mirror that takes a snap of the user and shares it to Twitter. It is at once a nifty implementation of technology and a humorous comment on society.
The SELFIE, or "Self Enhancing Live Feed Image Engine," uses a cabinet with a two-way mirror installed on a hinged door, much like a bathroom cabinet. Users see just a plain mirror, but opening the door reveals the technological innards that power the device.
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To trigger the camera, users need only stand in front of it (using a specially-placed vinyl marker on the floor for guidance) and smile. A Mac mini powers the facial recognition software, which is linked to a webcam. It was initially built using a Raspberry Pi, but the team realized that something with more power was needed for the software.
"The Mac mini uses the OpenCV facial recognition library to detect smiles, and when one is detected a serial command is sent to the Arduino to initiate the countdown sequence," iStrategy Director of Ops, Zach Saale explains to Gizmag. "It takes roughly one and a half seconds for a smile to be recognized, as we found any less than that would create false-positives."
The detection of a smile causes two vertical rows of LEDs hidden behind the mirror, which are controlled by an Arduino, to illuminate in sequence, providing the countdown and simulating a flash. According to Saale, an audio aspect is also built into the mirror using a small USB speaker to provide another cue that the photo has been taken. The subsequent shot is then automatically posted to Twitter.
Saale points out that a great deal of less techy work was also required in order to build the SELFIE. Various acrylic and glass coatings were tested before the glass two-way mirror was decided upon as the surface that most resembled a bathroom vanity mirror. The cabinet itself was a modified IKEA medicine cabinet, which happened to be the right size. Its mirror was replaced and the internal components were installed using 3D-printed mounts.
The SELFIE took about three weeks of on-and-off work to complete, and is one of a number of experimental projects that have been carried out by iStrategyLabs. Last year, the firm created the quite clever PiePal – a device on which users turn a dial to select how many pizzas of a pre-selected type they want, and then press a button to instantly order them.
CMO of iStrategyLabs DJ Saul explains that the SELFIE was conceived while the firm had been playing around with facial recognition technology, and had been keeping an eye on the "Twitter Mirror" for celebrity engagement at big events. "We started thinking about how we could create a seamless and fun experience, where the trigger would be nothing more that a smile," he says. "The SELFIE mirror helps to demonstrate what’s possible by bringing together hardware, software and a great idea."
When pressed about iStrategyLabs' stance on selfies, Saul was understandably more guarded. "I wouldn’t say we’re an advocate, but it's certainly a fascinating social phenomenon."
The video below shows the SELFIE in action.