Mir:ror is an Internet of Things app from the company Violet (follow on Twitter @violetOS). As the name suggests, it is literally a mirror – but an Internet-connected one which detects the objects you show it, triggering applications and multimedia content on your computer. It works via RFID stamps, known as “ztamp:s” in the company’s terminology. These are colorful adhesive stamps that contain a relay chip. When the user waves a stamped object over the mir:ror, a pre-programmed action occurs. For example waving a stamped coffee mug over the mir:ror might trigger your computer to read the news aloud to you.
The ztamp:s also work with the company’s other internet-connected object: the Nabaztag, a cute robot rabbit that can deliver anything from ambient information through lights and sounds to verbal information – like when he reads your email or RSS feeds to you.
Cute, But Clunky
When you watch the videos, you can’t help but feel that the process is a little clunky. While the functionality is generally useful, you have to physically apply RFID stamps to objects, download and install the Mir:ror software on your computer, ‘program’ the stamps, and finally wave the objects over the “mirror” to trigger actions on your computer. Eventually, RFID stamps will just be embedded automatically in objects by their manufacturers, little or no programming by the user will be required, and data will flow in a more automated fashion – not just to your computer but a variety of output devices.
For example, one scenario in the first video was waving the fish food container over the mirror, so you can tell when the fish was last fed. This is actually quite a useful scneario – more useful than the one where the guy puts his coffee cup on the mir:ror to inform his Facebook friends that he’s drinking coffee. The funniest scenario on the website, I thought, was this one: “Keep track of every time you use your tools, take your medication, or pour out a glass of Vodka.” Technical writer having a little fun there?
Currently, even assuming you’ve set the mir:ror up already, you need to program the stamp, stick it onto the fish food container, and then when you use it bring it over to the mirror (which one assumes will be in a home office somewhere, not sitting conveniently next to the fish bowl) wave it, read the data on your computer screen, and finally go back and feed the fish. Too many manual steps.
In the hopefully not too distant future, the RFID chip will be embedded in the fish food container already. Even more futuristically, the data will be displayed either on the container or the fish bowl, or at least your mobile phone.
But this is nit-picking with a future that hasn’t arrived yet. Mir:ror shows what we can expect from Internet-enabled objects in the near future. For now if you want this functionality, you’ll need to buy yourself a mir:ror and some ztamp:s – which you can do for USD$50. That bags you a mir:ror, 2 nano:ztag rabbits, and 3 ztamp:s. If you’ve already used one of Violet’s ‘Internet of Things’ products, let us know in the comments what you used the stamps for and your thoughts on them.