MBA student builds magic mirror

Ever since Michael Teeuw built a magic mirror, I’ve seen impressive builds pop up on Reddit (here and here, I used the latter’s open source code and the former’s hardware recommendations) and Medium. The magic mirror seems like the best ever gift, so I couldn’t resist building one myself.

Sure, I’m a business school student instead of an engineering student or Google employee, and sure, I have no experience in woodworking or hardware, but what could go wrong? I decided to document the ensuing amateur hour for public entertainment.

1. What is a magic mirror?

The Valentine’s Day answer: It’s essentially an interactive mirror with a bit of personality (like in Snow White, but the interface uses Helvetica Neue instead of a floating cursed mask). There’s something poetic about mirrors, tools meant to reflect the reality of the world around them, giving insight into so much more.

The business school answer: It’s a mirror with an embedded computer unit capitalizing on the recent internet-of-things revolution. With high repeat, high frequency daily interactions, the market size is huge!

The technical answer: It’s a two-way mirror on top of an LCD screen attached to a cheap computer.

2. The starting materials

I pre-ordered a two-way mirror, an LCD screen, a Raspberry Pi and some associated accessories.  I also ordered a picture frame thinking I could re-use it to avoid any Ron Swanson-type work, but that didn’t quite work out because the frame wasn’t the right size.

All the materials:







3. The amateur hour

Here I am trying to use scissors in place of a screw driver:



Here I use a butter knife instead of whatever I’m supposed to use:



I had to buy wood and a miter kit to build the frame:



I didn’t have sand paper, so I used a nail file, not even a full-sized nail file but instead a mini one attached to a nail clipper:





Gluing the frame together:



I realized the glue I used had toxic fumes, so I wore a N95 mask for the remainder of the work:




4. The finished product

The magic mirror: