Q&A: Student Builds Smart Mirror


Media by Nico Case

Nico Case, freshman, takes a picture of his schedule on his smart mirror. Case constructed the mirror over three weeks in the summer on his own.

Nico Case, freshman, recently built a “smart mirror,” a mirror that performs many functions similar to a smartphone. Even though Case had a lack of experience going into the project, he still found a way to make it work.

Q: What does the mirror do?
A: “It displays my schedule, the time, the weather and current news headlines.”

Q: What motivated you to build it?
A: First, I watched a video about it on YouTube showing a guy who built it. At first it seemed very difficult, but then I did some research and found out it wouldn’t be impossible. It really wasn’t difficult to find materials because I found videos and forums from others who had done it. Using their experiences and knowledge really helped me in the long run.

Q: Did you work with anyone while building the mirror?
A: I completed the project by myself, and bought the materials using money I raised while doing yard work for my neighbors over the summer.

Q: How much did it cost to build?
A: The total cost was $148. Keep in mind I used an old monitor I already owned, and it could’ve cost more had I gotten a new one.

Q: How did you build it?
A: I coded the mirror on a program called Raspberry Pi, which is like a computer but the size of a credit card. The programming is then connected to a monitor which is behind the mirror.

Q: How long did all of this take?
A: The research process was three weeks, the coding process took three days and the construction took one weekend.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in building the mirror?
A: I have zero experience in coding, and that was definitely the most difficult thing in the whole project. If I missed one character or misspelled something, I would have to restart completely which was quite frustrating.

Q: Did you learn any lessons from the whole process?
A: At first, I thought the mirror would be impossible, but this definitely shows if you put the time in you can do anything.

Q: How do you use the mirror?
A: I use the mirror daily in my room, and it’s linked it to Alexa. I can say in the morning ‘add this to my calendar’ like a homework assignment, and then that will show up on my mirror.

Q: What are your future career plans?
A: I’m quite interested in technology and hope to go into computer engineering.