Magic Mirror

Michael Teeuw was out shopping with his girlfriend, when he noticed a display mirror with illuminated lighting. Being one of those people whose minds tend to wander in the frocks department, he decided he’d go home and make a better one.

With one-way mirror glass (the sort they use in TV-show and, for all I know, real-life police interrogation rooms) mounted over a flat display device, outputting white text on a black background, the effects you can achieve are rather special, especially if, like Michael, you really care about typography.


Best of all, for most people the hardest bit of reproducing this project at home won’t be the Raspberry Pi end – frankly, the bit we’d expect you to find most tricky is making the wooden frame. Michael has done all the hard work with the interface, and integrating all the information he needs when gazing at his own beauteous visage: namely a nice uplifting compliment, the weather, clock and calendar, and a news feed. He’s also made detailed wiring instructions available, along with all of his code. (I’m noticing some additions to the codebase have been made since he put the project on his blog, most notably an alert that tells him to empty the dishwasher.)

Visit Michael’s website to see a step-by-step guide to replicating this project at home.


Michael Teeuw avatar

Thanks you guys so much for sharing this! :) Really appriciate it!

Liz Upton avatar

Thank *you* for working on it – and I meant it about the typography. Beautiful job!

Chris Johnson avatar

What’s the license on the code, and in particular the Helvetica Neue font files in the github repository? As far as I know these are not free fonts, and require commercial licensing?

lamyrus avatar

Well, yes you are right. But you can probably replace it with one of those free fonts with almost the same characteristics.

John-Paul avatar

The mirror looks great, would love to try it at home. Would be especially cool if it would detect who is standing in front of the mirror for customizing the message.

One question though, does it require a large screen display? Seems like that could get expensive based on the size of the mirror he appears to be using. Will need to check out his guide.

Tomsk31 avatar

Check his blog and you will see he’s using a 24″ monitor. The model he specifies is available for about £130 from the usual sources.

The way to save money is find one you, or someone else, is getting rid of.

I’m wondering if this could be made to work with adhesive reflective window tint film…. Anyone given that a try? Cheaper than a 1-way mirror

Liz Upton avatar

I’ve seen some makespace/hackspace uses of that adhesive stuff; you really don’t get the clean and undistorted effect you get with a piece of commercial mirror, unfortunately.

simon avatar

If you see what the opensource Kinect tracker code can do. Combine the earlier RPi post about motion tracking (visual velocity) with this “mirror” and you can use it to draw on tracked items.

Of course the Kinect guys did it with boobs and light-sabres, but we could be a bit more imaginative.

TL@ avatar

That’s just cool, even if you’re not a geek :-)

Tai Viinikka avatar

I think it’s very charming of Michael to provide his residential latitude and longitude (to 11 decimal places) in the photo! I promise I’ll email before I drop in to see the project! What kind of beer do you like?

Iraklis Papanikolaou avatar

If you’re looking to save yourself the hassle of building the mirror screen, there is a company that does this sort of thing. They’re called Ad Notam, and their Mirror TVs have HDMI input. Saw a few up close and they were pretty decent (although the mirror glass does limit brightness & colour range slightly).

Disclaimer: I don’t work for them. We were looking at a partnership with them a couple of years back, but then the recession hit (where I’m based) and it fell through. Still, very good chaps.

svenn avatar

Waw, awesome, fancy stuff!

Liz Upton avatar

We’ve seen it – and we featured it on our Facebook and G+ pages, which are really worth a follow if you’re not doing so already.

Brian Sargent avatar

for all I know, used in for all I know, real-life police interrogation rooms”

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. :p

Anyway, this could be really fun paired with the facial recognition for “profiles”

Liz Upton avatar

My only experience of police stations is the summer I spent working for the Coroner’s Office when I was a student. There was no one-way glass, but there was a lot of second-hand cigarette smoke (this all happened about a decade before the ban) and builders’ tea.

Re OpenCV: I was thinking that way too. Pierre Raufast’s project, which we featured last year (also, confusingly, called Magic Mirror) was a talking version of the same idea, using OpenCV to detect who was looking at the mirror.

Geoff Webb avatar

Being one of those people whose minds tends to wander in the frocks department

Liz, that phrase totally made my day. With a wife and two daughters, I often find myself in this frame of mind. However I have yet to come up with something as cool as this project!

Damballah avatar

Hello, it’s a very very very nice project, congratulations !
i don’t have the words for exprime to you my stupefaction when i read and see this post… Thank you ! (Excuses me if my english is not good, i’m french !)

Jim avatar

I love this. One of those beautifully simple, useful and convenient ideas – the kind that become real products.

“We don’t ask consumers what they want. They don’t know. Instead we apply our brain power to what they need, and will want, and make sure we’re there, ready” – Akio Morita, aka – Mr Sony

Now you just need a heap of cheap screens and change the name to iMirror.

Give Tim a call ;)

Tibor Kovari avatar

Hi Jim,

great minds … iMirror is close, but not just quite the name the product we built. It is called iFace Digital Mirror (TM) – check it out:

or here:

Best, Tibor

Robert_M avatar

While I don’t have the equipment/skills needed to build this project (well, at least “not yet”) I thoroughly enjoyed reading the write-up on Michael’s site, as it was informative and entertaining at the same time.

Well Done!

Collin Y. avatar

Very nice work! I’m inspired to create my own. Thank you for sharing Michael!

Mubashir Hussain avatar

It is such a fascinating project. I am looking forward to try this at my office door to notify people weather I am in office or not or maybe I am busy or I am available.

Great Work!!!!

irwan avatar


Christian avatar

Awesome project!! Could one use a touchscreen as well?

Sergio avatar

Hi Dude,

I love your project its great.. for one moment i though to emulate you … until i look for the code, it will much appreciated to have a good resume of that part i don´t get clear with, well i´m not good with code or diving it.
Some one that could do a sept by step work around of that??
Thx for all

Jeremy Bourquin avatar

Thank you for creating and sharing! You are awesome!

Tibor Kovari avatar


you may recall that over 2 years ago, Eben, you and I met at a seminar in Oxford. Then, in October 2012 I showed iFace Digital Mirror to Eben in Cambridge suggesting that we’d like to use Raspi for turning it into a product.

It was the fledgling months for Raspi and the incubation months for iFace…

Lots happened since… iFace is a trademarked, patent protected digital signage that has become a professional product, shipped to nearly 20 countries and does not stop wowing people whether in London, Dubai, Sydney or Budapest.

There is footage of what we have achieved – check it out here:

And congrats to Michael,we too love visionaries, come visit us!

Best, Tibor

Liz Upton avatar

Hi Tibor – of course I remember you! Congratulations; I’m really pleased your great idea went exactly where you thought it would. :)

Tibor Kovari avatar

Thanks Liz – it has been a fun journey and it has only begun, watch this space!

My best to you and “Mr. Raspi”

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