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The Magic Secret of the Two way Mirror (Smart Mirror)

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What if you are told that your bedroom mirror can display important notifications, weather updates, or today’s crypto market stats and so much with just a little magic? Yes, You can now make your life a much smarter with smart mirrors.

In today’s fast life we want our life to be more simple and easy. And this is only possible with access to the right information at the right time. Like brushing your teeth in the morning and you will have all meeting plans for the day right in front of you in the mirror. You can go through all late-night important boss messages to take timely action before reaching the office. Or you will have the stock market trading tip in your hand before the market starts. All such information is right in front of you and without touching any of the gadgets. This is the magic of two way mirror and smart mirror technology. The article will explain you, two way mirror in detail, its working principle, types, brands, and how to make one for your bathroom to be more smart and modern.

Two way Mirror
Two way Mirror

Working Principle of a Two Way Mirror

In order to understand two way mirror first let us recall the basic principle of an ordinary mirror. An ordinary one like mirrors in our rooms is manufactured with a layer of silver applied on one side which is pasted and bonded with one side of the glass using some chemicals for long-lasting. When light falls on the other side of the glass it shows a clear image as a result of perfect reflection. If there is no light in the room we are unable to see ourselves in the mirror. This means its light’s reflection that converts glass into the reflective surface which we call a mirror.

Now, consider an example of a smartphone screen to better understand the smart mirror phenomena. Whenever we take our phone into shiny daylight and if the brightness of our phone screen is not sufficiently high then what happens? It is impossible for us to see any display on the screen rather it shows our reflection like a mirror. But when you increase the brightness to high in sunlight then it’s no more a reflection screen and we can see our phone display without any effort. That’s the main principle that lies behind two way mirror or a smart mirror. We place a display at the back of mirror with high lumens and it illuminates the digital display like a smartphone. Basic mirrors merely display information, however, in some variants they additionally have speakers, microphones, and cameras.

Main Components of Two Way Mirror

Smart Mirrors provide users to see weather, time, date, email notifications, messages, and much more. We’ve always wondered how in movies they can effortlessly establish their schedules by instructing their mirrors to do it for them, viewing the most recent news, or playing music while they perform other household activities. These kinds of magical mirrors really exist, known as “Smart Mirrors.” and can also be DIY a one for your room. These two way mirrors are giving modern living a cutting-edge touch.

Below mentioned all the related components that will make you understand all details of smart mirrors and let you DIY this amazing magical device in your rooms.

  1. Two way mirror
  2. A digital display
  3. IR touch overlay or touch foil
  4. Control of mirror display
installation order for smart mirror

Two Way Mirror

What is a Two Way Mirror? If you have seen an investigation scene in movies you might have seen a two way mirror. The investigation room has got a large slab of a special glass mirror that lets the officers investigate or observe the interrogatee’s behavior and expressions. This special mirror will serve as an ordinary mirror for all those who are looking at it from the interrogation room. However, officers outside the room can clearly see the interrogation proceeding through the same special mirror. The important thing that needs to be noted here is the amount of light in both rooms. Usually, the interrogation room is highly beamed so that more light can pass through the special glass and let the other room outside see through it easily. This only achieves by a thin layer of silver nitrate on the glass surface or by using a special ready to use film for two way mirror.

Two way mirror
Two way Mirror

Similarly, two way mirror uses similar special glass mirrors with two way coating. The digital display we see on the smart mirrors is because of the high-intensity display light which passes through the mirrors and is visible as an interactive screen display.

Digital Display

The display of smart mirrors is not a new thing but a simple LED monitor. It is with high-intensity visibility so it can easily be seen once turned on at the back of two way smart mirror. Your choice of display hardware & its size will have a significant & deep impact on how well your smart mirror functions. Almost any type of display will work with smart mirrors with an HDMI connection preferable. It may be as small as a smartphone or tablet or as big as a large TV screen or PC monitor. These smart mirrors don’t need expensive displays with high refresh rates or resolutions. All you need is a basic one with minimal functions.

The display doesn’t cover the full surface of the mirror, but there is still enough room for putting whatever you want on the screen. You can also have a display with a touchscreen feature so that it will be fancier when you command it by touching the surface. There are 2 possible option of sizes;

  • Smart mirror of the same size as monitor – Can display required data anywhere or on the whole mirror area.
Smart Mirror with same size of monitor
Two way Mirror with the Same Size of Monitor
  • Smart mirrors bigger than the size of the monitor Can display required data on one side and the other side remain as a standard mirror.
Smart Mirror larger than monitor size
Two way Mirror Larger than Monitor Size

ALSO READ: How to Make Your AC a Smart AC?

IR touch overlay or Foil Touch

We have discussed the special two way mirror and a digital display. Now, we need our smart mirror to have a touch feature with it. It is possible to convert any display screen whether LCD or LED into an interactive touch type. If the display you are using is already a touch type and expecting to skip this step then I would not recommend it. Because your display is at the back of a thick 4-5 mm two way mirror and it is not possible for its touch functionality to work fine with a thick mirror in between.

There are two best options that can convert any display screen into a touch screen. These are IR-InfraRed Touch Overlay and Capacitive touch foil. Here we will be explaining both options so that you can choose easily between them.

IR Touch for two way mirror display

IR – Infrared touch technology is based on the spreading of IR radiation over the front of the mirror. Whenever there is a cut or hindrance to IR rays, this touch system will detect the change at the IR receiving end and can also identify the spot on the mirror area where that hindrance has occurred very precisely. This change and disturbance to IR light will sense it as touch on the screen. The technology is so advanced that it can also sense multiple touches at a time.

IR touch frame for two way mirror

Installation of the IR touch is done as a frame over the mirror and the controller of IR touch is connected to the digital display HDMI port. In this way, there is nothing you need to compromise on the mirror screen and it’s just the sides of the mirror that will hold IR touch frame on it. The complete guide for installation usually comes with IR touch.

Capacitive Touch Foil for two way mirror display

As the name suggests, capacitive touch work on the phenomena of utilizing capacitive charges holds between two non-conductive material. This technology is quite famous on mobile screens and is also named the resistive touch screen. It is more precise than the former option. Why it is more accurate? this can be understood once you know how it works as compared to a smart one.

Capacitive touch foil is designed with nano-wired mesh over the foil which is not visible to the naked eye. It makes the sheet slightly opaque due to nano wiring. But it remains transparent to large extent. Whenever we touch anywhere on foil it sends the sensing through respective nanowires to its controller. The controller can easily identify the coordinate of the touch.

capacitive touch sheet

The installation of capacitive touch needs proper procedure of applying soap foam liquid spray both on the touch foil and on two way mirror before installation. A wet foil sheet at the end of the procedure is placed nicely on the mirror so that it will look like the part of the mirror. The controller connects the touch foil with the display via HDMI or USB port. You will have a detailed procedure guide at the purchase of touch foil.

Which Touch technology is better for two way mirror?

We have gathered some information based on the functionality of both IR and Capacity touch technology.

  • Both touch system comes in various sizes but you can easily customize the capacity foil sheet just by cutting extra part.
  • IR touch frames can be reused once dismount from a mirror or digital display. However, this option is not possible with capacitive foil touch.
  • Installation of capacitive foil needs simple cleaning and a spray of liquid soap. However, IR touch needs connecting frame corners as per assigned Letters and keep ribbon wiring nicely covered without damaging it.
  • Because there is no sheet covering the mirror front, IR touch technology will not distort the smart mirror reflection. The situation is slightly different with capacitive foil because it is a separate sheet that must be used to cover your two-way mirror.

For more info on smart touch screens for digital display, you may check this site.

Control of Mirror Display

Your smart mirror’s processing power comes from a computer connected to the back of the glass display or a microcontroller like Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi is a low-cost computer and power economical as well; that is quite popular for various electronics projects. They can smoothly run any smart mirror. Using a Raspberry Pi needs some hands-on expertise with this controller memory flashing, program configurations, etc. You will get a lot of guides on how to use Raspberry Pi for hobby projects and more specifically for smart mirrors. We have shared some useful links for your reference.

The detailed Raspberry Pi course will soon be uploaded here. So be in touch with our website by hitting bottom right bell icon for every notifications or join our email list for personal emails regarding new smart home stuff.

If you want to make it more simple and can experiment with screen display easily with the home computer. Try the album display option or chrome cast option then you can drop the idea of integrating Raspberry Pi. But believe me Raspberry Pi is heaven to do magic with lots of free magic mirrors modules for an interactive display.

Types of Mirrors

Acrylic Mirrors

Acrylic Mirrors are the ones that have lighter weight as compared to glass and are user-friendly. To improve the appearance and safety features of mirrors some components like Reflective thermoplastic sheets are used. Due to its lightweight nature, it is easy to transport but, they are more prone to get deformation, whereas normal glass does not. Bending, picture distortion, as well as scratches, are some of the major drawbacks of this one. The acrylic mirror sheet is 60% clear and 40% reflecting.

Smart glass mirrors

As we explained previously this type of mirror is reflective on one side and clear on the other, which provides the facility to see reflections likely on one side while persons on the other side see through like a window. These may also be utilized in ballet studios to allow parents to monitor their children’s activities. Two-way mirrors are also appropriate for operating rooms in hospitals. Light can be allowed to penetrate if there are small imperfections on the surface of such mirrors. The smart glass mirrors are likewise 75% reflecting and 25% translucent.

Dielectric mirror

Dielectric mirrors outperform as they are perfect for a wide range of applications such as lasers, head-up displays, space technologies, and many more.

In some cases, a multi-layer coating is required to achieve the appropriate spectral qualities. These stacks are typically made up of consecutive thin film coatings of dielectrics with high and low refractive indexes. These mirrors are classified as dielectric and Bragg mirrors as a result of their construction. The dielectric mirror has a reflectivity of 30% and a transparency of 70%.

More reflection means better mirror property and more transparent is better for digital display. Its a trade-off

Best Brands

Following enlisted are some of the known brands with their links.

  1. HiMirror Mini 16G 
  2. Kohler Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror
  3. iHome Vanity Mirror
  4. Echelon Reflect Smart Mirror
  5. BYECOLD Smart Vanity Bathroom Mirror
  6. QAIO Smart Bathroom Mirror 

Advantages and its Best practical usages

This invention has changed the everyday life of a layman. Smart mirrors are useful in the following ways;

  • In clothing brand outlets people can easily choose what suits them best by clicking different looks in a number of outfits.
  • Smart mirrors also have the potential to raise footfalls in shopping malls. The entrepreneur can promote their products by broadcasting them to increase crowd attention towards their stores
  • Hotels provide high-end accommodations to their guests by installing smart mirrors in their suites. Customers may enjoy a relaxing bubble bath while viewing movies or listening to music in their bathrooms. They can order meals, summon room service, adjust the lighting, stay updated with weather conditions, etc.
  • Two way mirrors are used in movie theatres to display trailers, commercials, food menus, and other information

Disadvantages and Its Issues

Smart mirrors are very beneficial for many consumers but they also have some negative points.

  • Needed expert level skill or team to resolve the issues if they arise.
  • Smart mirrors have the ability to glare when positioned at an angle
  • The high level of equipment & components utilized in this kind of mirror rather makes them more expensive.
  • Any modification such as in display style or adding of new information on screen requires a high level of technical knowledge which a layman does not have.

Bonus videos on two way mirror

If you have read all through the above info. You will love to have practical DIY videos. Here I am sharing with you the two best DIY I have seen for making your own two way mirror, smart , or magic mirror. I am not getting any commission from these videos 🙂