Surprise people when they approach the mirror by having it open a dialogue, give the user a transparent way to interact with the mirror that won’t pull them out of the suspension of disbelief, offer to take their picture, automatically post it to a Facebook album, offer to send them their picture over email or text.


DRTY SMMR is a residential/commercial art community here in Brooklyn, New York. The boutique style store offers couture clothing, hand-made accessories, and a host of other locally created art. A large unassuming mirror covers the back wall of the store; but there's a secret waiting behind this mirror - in the form of loads of technology.

I’d been experimenting interactive window displays using rear projection and Microsoft Kinect. Around that time we wanted a photo studio to start cataloging the art pieces being created at DRTY SMMR. A similar idea being tossed around was a “photo booth” for customers to take studio-quality pictures of themselves in the outfits they were trying on. When these ideas came together - we had the interactive magical photo mirror.

Business Challenge

DRTY SMMR is a very unique place. It was key to stay on-brand in that respect. I wanted to create something that people hadn't seen before. More importantly the goals were to create more social media content and begin email & SMS marketing. So our business goals were clear:

  1. Stay on-brand
  2. Create social media content & encourage sharing
  3. Lay groundwork for email & SMS marketing


Design Challenge

When designing an installation the surprise, delight, and engagement are key factors. The most difficult factor to achieve in this project however, is that of magic. That sense of disbelief. That feeling of "How is this happening to me right now?". Some call them magic tricks, some call them Illusions. This is particularly difficult to maintain considering the requirement of user interaction. How does the customer communicate, talk to, ask and answer questions without ever touching a mouse, a keyboard, remote control, or even a touch screen? This was achieved using a variety of unique materials, sensors, chips, software, and other technologies in combination.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Winston Churchill (supposedly but prolly not)

Software Challenge

To keep interactions from becoming stale from visitor to visitor a complex question/answer structure had to be created. A structure that would allow a technically finite number of contextual interactions to take place while not following a specific pattern. This was done using a combination of hard-coded question/answer paths in addition to artificial intelligence.

In order to achieve the business challenge of laying marketing groundwork for Facebook, Instagram, email and SMS the mirror is wired (okay, technically wireless) in to a variety of networks including Facebook Graph API, email services, and cell networks.

Detail 2

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