New Exciting IoT Mirror Project: Smart Reflection

Over the last five years give or take, there has been a movement on the rise. It has been called many things, but by far the most common term has been Internet of Things. This concept covers all things, devices and even clothing connected to the internet, sending or receiving data.

Many interesting projects have been developed by professionals and amateurs alike, inspiring many crowdfunded projects and many commercial products along the way. On do it yourself forums and websites across the internet we see new projects every week promising to change the way you interact with your dishwasher, or how you control your central heating.

This article will explore an intelligent mirror, that looks like something from out of the future.

The smart mirror has been labelled “Smart Reflection” and is currently in the development stages. So far the images we have received show a bunch of Raspberry Pi 3’s, Samsung Monitors and IKEA mirrors.

Together they will enable the users easy access to the latest news while standing in front of the mirror and putting on the sunday clothes. Functioning just like a regular mirror, but with a screen behind it, it will display data similar to a regular computer monitor at the same time as reflecting the image of whomever stands in front of it.

The developers behind this new project are a Danish and UK based app agency called Nodes, who first got the idea for their own personal use, but saw the potential for a commercial product in the early stages of researching.

Currently Nodes are gathering input from users on the internet submitting their ideas for functionality for the mirror, so if you have a great idea, you can visit the site and add your own idea here.

Some of the intended features includes voice recognition, fingerprint scanning and possibly even some low level machine learning which would know what apps any given user opens most frequently, and act accordingly.

It is even possible to develop an application that will know which user is entering the bathroom, and turn on the personalized welcome screen as the user enters. If that user normally shaves in the morning, the mirror can then show that users favorite news, or play the favorite music of whomever is currently taking a shower.

The software part is what makes this mirror interesting, and being developed by serious app developers makes us believe Smart Reflection could go on to become a huge success, since the people at Nodes know how to make awesome applications.

How is it built?

Built around an IKEA mirror available in most countries, everyone can compete with the low cost on this part. And with Nodes hinting at the idea of making their research and software publicly available, it might also be possible to build your own at some point in time.

Behind the two-way mirror will sit a 32 inch monitor, projecting all the relevant data through the mirror so users can see both their own reflection, as well as the data sent by the computer.

The computer will be a Raspberry Pi 3B, currently the latest model of the popular minicomputer, with the option of either connecting to the network via cable, or Wi-Fi.

This combination will be quite powerful due to the Raspberry Pi 3B, since it offers 1.2ghz of processing power, and 1 gigabyte of ram for memory. Users can buy additional SD-Cards for improved storage capabilities, or just connect to the internet for streaming movies or accessing shared content.

Both the mirror and the computer is quite low on cost compared to typical IoT projects, and by using any old flat screen monitor, most enthusiasts can gain easy entry to the development of their own smart mirror.

Programmable mirror

The mirror will run on a specialized version of Linux, customized by the in-house developers at Nodes for performance and user experience being the primary factors.

Running on Linux will mean that all current mobile applications for sale or download on Google Play will become available to Smart Reflection users, allowing for more than 2 million apps in theory.

However, since this project is still being developed at the software-level, we are not able to promise exact custom apps designed for the mirror in question, and we will have to wait to know specific details of extended functionality outside of traditional apps.

Some of the ideas currently floating revolves around user recognition, either by facial or voice or gesture recognition, to allow the mirror to boot up automatically once a user it knows enters the bathroom. It will then also be able to open that users preferred apps, and play the favorite radio station or music tracks according to the previous listens.

This can be expanded upon to include functionality that will allow the built-in camera to measure heart rates and compare to previous days, thus possibly alerting the user early on that a problem might be arising, or that the user has simply had one cup of coffees too many.

It will also be interesting to find out how exactly the device will be controlled, whether only by voice, or by having a smartphone control inputs – or maybe something else entirely?

Advice on Developing a New Mobile Application has been in touch with a group of app developers based in Copenhagen, they’ve shared some of their insights to help guide fledgling developers or startups on their journey towards a successful app.

Nodes has developed apps for prominent clients such as Samsung, Adidas, LEGO, Unilever and BMW, as well as startups and smaller businesses, so they’ve experienced most of the common issues one can run into when publishing an app in the App Store.

We think any first time app developer would benefit from having a quick read through of the following points, and Nodes themselves make sure to have all these issues checked ourselves before submitting any app on behalf of their clients. And not just that, they’ve also created an interactive statistics database containing iOS and Android user version stats for free.

From Daniel Baek, Co-founder of Nodes, a mobile app agency located in Denmark and the United Kingdom.

  • Consider the monetization model from the very start, so that the development process will not have to change drastically while the project is underway.
  • Aim for an early MVP (Minimum Viable Product) from the get go, and use that to iterate further development and upgrades, compared to building the ideal dream app and wait to launch it until you feel it is 100% ready.
  • Ensure that the steering group is given a mandate to make decisions and won’t be slowed down by too many internal stakeholders and departments.
  • It’s important that people working sedentary jobs get up and move about.

From Casper Rasmussen, Partner at Nodes

  • In most cases hybrid app development frameworks aren’t the right way to go (we use it for some projects) as the cost of creating an just as exciting user experience will require as much time in the end as taking the native route from the start.
  • Use open-source applications and packages for all standard tasks and processes.
  • Use paid services for more complex part of the projects (payment, push etc) as opposed to developing them as part of the projects yourself
  • Stick to standard UI elements, and use themes to develop brand identity.
  • Always keep in mind Apple and Android Guide Lines before starting a project to ensure a low rejection possibility

Submitting an app to Google Play or Apple’s App Store

Since it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to have a new app reviewed and approved in both Google’s Play Store, and Apple’s App Store, it is important to make sure all things are set-up correctly in the first attempt, since it can cost any startup or company valuable time if the app happens to get rejected the first time.

  • Lacking app meta-data This is a simple fix, but surprisingly, one of the most common issues we’ve seen with regards to app store rejections. The meta-data should always be double checked for containing correct information and no broken links, since the moderators in the App Store are particularly keen on having correct meta-data.
  • Lacking privacy policy For legal reasons, the App Store moderators are intent on all apps having proper privacy policies in place, this is an often ignored item for many app developers and clients, thinking that their app doesn’t need this. However, Apple takes this item very seriously, and even a few minor spelling errors in the privacy policy can result in rejections.
  • Don’t ask for specific personal information that is not needed Many times, we’ve seen our customers wanting to collect a wide array of user data for their analysis and marketing purposes, but if the app is not using these data for anything particular, odds are your app will be rejected due to collecting information not related to core functionality of the app.

There are other important issues, but we estimate that more than 80% of the apps we’ve dealt with that’s been rejected has been to one of these three.

Here’s some more things to check before publishing an app.

  1. Missing demo accounts
  2. Major bugs in the app
  3. The Concept or Functionality of the app is against Apple guidelines
  4. The app configuration (.plist) file not specifying correct background functionality
  5. Make sure your video preview sticks to functionality only
  6. Dummy data still in the app
  7. Moderating user-generated content

If you’ve still got time and energy for reading more about app development tips and tricks, perhaps you’ll enjoy this article about the latest mobile app trends for 2016. Otherwise, feel free to leave your comment, both positive and negative, we strive to provide useful content that our readers and users can benefit from!

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