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NYT Working On 'Magic Mirror' For Bathroom Surfing 138

MrSeb writes "If the New York Times Research & Development Lab has its wicked way, you will soon be able to stop taking your mobile computer of choice into the bathroom — and use a 'magic mirror' instead. On average we spend an hour in the bathroom every day, and the magic mirror — which is built from a 'data-bearing' mirror, Microsoft Kinect, and a healthy dollop of ingenuity — is designed to capitalize on that time by letting you surf the web and increase the New York Times' advertising revenue."
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NYT Working On 'Magic Mirror' For Bathroom Surfing

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  • Ah yes (Score:4, Funny)

    by RenHoek ( 101570 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @09:11AM (#37285908) Homepage

    More traffic for chatroulette.com :)

  • For the love of god (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Stop using advertising revenue as a business model.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )


    • This. I work in UX and I get so frustrated when I see perfectly good websites get ruined by the addition of all kinds of ads. Sure, you might make a few cents per click on a banner or a big box, but for god's sake, just design a good site and a good product and your reputation alone will more than make up for piddly ad revenues. Don't you have enough faith in the value of your product to let it ride on its own? ...I guess not *sigh*
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Friday September 02, 2011 @09:12AM (#37285922)

    I can surf the web AND still look at myself?!?!? Shit, that will sell *really* well in L.A.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Now we can look forward to even more lost productivity while these contraptions facilitate toilet-side porn and the Beating of Meats on the Toilet Seats (tm).

      -- Ethanol-fueled

  • Would you really want to touch one of these if it was in a public restroom?
  • I don't know about the "average person", but while I am in the bathroom shaving, washing, showering, bathing, trimming, using the toilet, etc, I have neither the time nor inclination to somehow stare at (or maybe interact with) text and graphics on a mirror over the vanity...

    Perhaps I am just not geeky enough?

    Listening to music would be OK, I suppose :)

    • Yeah, who wants a mirror directly in front of the toilet? That's not very magical for me. At least they won't be bundling many cameras with these devices as I doubt anyone will want to join that person's Skype or Hangout.

      • it runs off of a kinect, so it is a camera.
      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
        I agree. Someone in the creativity department forgot to take the time to actually look at how bathrooms are designed. No one is going to stand in front of the bathroom sink for an hour (after all, we apparently spend "an hour a day in the bathroom" according to TFA) to read the news. Much more convenient to bring a portable computing device with you if you're that desperate for onthrone connectivity.
    • Exactly what I came to post. How am I supposed to use this thing while shaving, brushing my teeth, in the shower...
      The only place you can use a tablet is on the toilet, and that's what people are using their tablets and phones for.

      • Yeah, I don't get it either.. all this would do is increase the amount of time you spend in the bathroom. Why not do your thing, then go use a computer elsewhere? The only useful thing I can think of for this is some kind of game to get kids to brush their teeth etc.
        • I can see how some people might want to stream the morning news or music or something, in which case gesture based control would solve the wet hands + electronics issue, but even then it seems like the solution they're proposing is massive overkill and will apply to a very small number of people.
    • That was precisely my thought. While my cumulative time spent in the bathroom may reach an hour per day, I would estimate that less than five minutes of that is spent "in front of" the mirror, and the time spent *looking* at the mirror is some fraction of even that.

      And I would guess that those people who *do* spend a lot of time looking at the mirror already have something holding their attention--themselves.
    • Yeah, about the only way I can consume content in the bathroom is as audio, and even that's a stretch. All I want is a half-decent bluetooth waterproof speaker for my podcasts.

    • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @11:07AM (#37287474) Journal

      In the movies there exist this amazing invention, perfect AI. This perfect AI will give you your tasks of the day as you are shaving in an easy to digest manner that requires no user interaction with shaving foam covered fingers (for the ladies) or make up (for the men) (Yes I am from Amsterdam, how did you know).

      In reality, what will be displayed is your gmail account and that ain't easy to navigate at the best of times let alone when you are hung over and can't handle any light at all let alone your own reflection.

      Same with tablet, in the movies they just swipe and voila, what they want appears in large enough text you can read it over their shoulders. In reality? Finicky settings, wifi or 3g that isn't in range and touchscreens that seem designed for people with smaller fingers then I have.

      It is the idea of the cue-cat again, that people are so organized that they can even be bothered to go through all this hassle even if they were motivated to do so. Like QR codes. What do they expect, I am going to stop my car, search for my phone, install an app, try to get a picture of the code, wait for it to look it up, wait for the page over 3g and .... I LOST INTEREST!

      Every futuristic sci-fi movie tends to have a scene where the hero wakes up and has an intelligent house that makes the process go smooth, reads the news, shows the mail and orders a new carton of milk... in reality? The only tech in my house itself that people didn't have a hundred years ago is the light-switch and that is just because only rich people had them but cleaning staff would still have seen them in the houses they worked at.

      Oh yes, I got a computer but they are not part of the house are they now? How smart is your house? Really?

      How smart could you make it, with todays tech in a way that is actually helpfull? For instance, get a weather report? Detailed enough to be usefull but not annoying to hear everyday even if you got a day off?

      The idea is that shaving and such are wasted moment, a rich director would have his secretary to fill him in, it is sci-fi to have a computer/robot do it. It looks great in every movie I have seen. In reality? Do you want to blue screen your mirror? Have to wait for an essential update before you can flush your toilet?

      No? Me neither. My fridge is dumb, my washing machine is dumb, my lights are dumb. Maybe that makes me dumb but it works for me.

      • Woody Allen's Sleeper was an early-1970s flick about a guy who wakes up 200 years in the future, and lo, there are video/Internet bathroom mirrors (to great comic effect). :p

    • I don't know about the "average person", but while I am in the bathroom shaving, washing, showering, bathing, trimming, using the toilet, etc, I have neither the time nor inclination to somehow stare at (or maybe interact with) text and graphics on a mirror over the vanity...

      Perhaps I am just not geeky enough?

      Listening to music would be OK, I suppose :)

      Nah, you aren't. I'm not a major fan of reading while I'm dropping a number 2.. but I know a bunch of people that bring reading material (and a bunch that never bother). I don't see the point in it, unless you know your stomach isn't doing too well and you're gonna be in there for a long long time.

      But as for the rest, showering, shaving, brushing my teeth... I just want to be in-and-out. Why hang around in there and take longer to brush my teeth while watching YouTube when I can just brush quickly, walk

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A whole damn hour in the bathroom every day? Even counting a 15 minute shower that seems like a lot. Might I recommend a change in diet?

  • by sourcerror ( 1718066 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @09:16AM (#37285994)

    Wow, they invented glossy screens! Not like we had these in laptops since forever.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @09:16AM (#37285996)
    Was it not just a few months ago that the New York Times was complaining about how they had to protect their revenue stream and start enforcing a pay wall? Where did they get the money for such a pointless project?
    • Microsoft? After all, Microsoft is regular advertiser with the New York Times and Microsoft Kinect's product is the one being plugged. At the very least, I suspect that all the hardware used was donated to them for free (not to mention the free labor from the unpaid intern that put this whole thing together).

  • An hour? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Women might spend an hour a day in the bathroom, but what straight man does? 10 mins shower, 2 mins brushing teeth, 5 mins shaving and maybe 5 mins taking a crap.

    • Is there some reason to think that gay men don't also spend 10~ minutes showering, 2~ minutes brushing their teeth, 5~ minutes shaving and 5~ minutes taking a dump? I didn't realize that sexual orientation determined how long those things take...
    • Women might spend an hour a day in the bathroom, but what straight man does? 10 mins shower, 2 mins brushing teeth, 5 mins shaving and maybe 5 mins taking a crap.

      Speaking as someone who has been on this earth for many years, that last activity takes longer the older you become...

      • by foobsr ( 693224 )

        that last activity takes longer the older you become...

        ... though I suspect that this is a (cumulative) result of a wrong diet, dehydration, defunct posture etc. . Also, the use of 'western-style' toilets (instead of squat ones) does not exactly alleviate the situation.


      • [......] maybe 5 mins taking a crap.

        Speaking as someone who has been on this earth for many years, that last activity takes longer the older you become...

        Bollocks it does! If it takes you longer than a couple of minutes to have a shit then you need to drink more water, get more exercise and eat more vegetables.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      Why is spending an hour important? Some hotels (Caesars in Atlantic City for one) already have televisions in the bathroom mirrors. It's kind of nice to be able to get the weather report, sports scores, etc while you are brushing your teeth. It does have some drawbacks however. First, you have to use a remote control (in the bathroom, yuck) to change the channels. Secondly, chances of the things you want actually being aired at that moment are pretty slim. This seems like it would improve on both of th

    • A stack of books next to the shitter is common, and a computer can serve the same function. The crapper is renowned as a good place to think.

    • Yeah, but with a computer/TV screen instead of a mirror, then I wouldn't see any reason to ever get up from the throne (except to get the occasional food item or beer can, and even that could be easily rectified by placing a mini-fridge on top of the bathtub).

    • An hour a day? You must know some pretty high-maintenance women ;)
  • by denshao2 ( 1515775 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @09:16AM (#37286002) Homepage Journal
    How many of us have a mirror positioned to watch us use the toilet?
    • I once house-sat for a wealthy family in my parents' neighborhood. One of their bathrooms was all mirrors: Every vertical surface was a mirror.

      "Hey, this is cool, I thought."

      Yeah, then I used the bathroom once and realized that wherever I looked I got a eyefull of myself. I used the other bathroom the rest of the week.

  • Sounds more like a healthy dollop of Purell is required. Yuck.
  • ...because I spend most of my time in the klo either away from the mirror or in the shower. Now a shower safe web-radio is a real improvement; we have a rack in our shower (and, yes, it's a nice one) so tomorrow's solution, today, consists of a 7" tablet and a 1qt zip-lock freezer bag.
  • Maybe some ad blocking toilet paper :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Magic Mirror-mirror on the wall hacked by anonymous, pictures and facebook passwords posted to www.haxalot.org/mirror_exploit"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Finally I have a better excuse to use the basin to pee...

    This mirror will make my life better

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday September 02, 2011 @09:24AM (#37286126)

    Shake it more than three times and Clippy pops up. "Looks like you could use some help with that. Shall I find you some good porn?"

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      So you're saying they will finally get clippy right?

      "I suspect that right now clippy would say:
      "I see you have shaken it 3 times. Would you like some help removing it?"

  • So this is just another way to entice me into staying longer in a room that smells like crap and touch a mirror that's been likely touched by a douchebag that doesn't wash his hands after he touches himself? No thanks...

  • Damn, people! Eat more fiber!
  • The NYT engineers had been working nonstop for months without success trying to get their iPhone app to stop freezing. Eventually they decided it would be smart to work on something different and less strenuous for a while and then return to their important project with fresh minds.

  • Why does this idea of putting computers in public restrooms keep surfacing? Perhaps we should flush twice.

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      I know one and it doesn't seem to stop him from cracking open a book on the can.

      Anyway, I hope people really do not want toilet-ready gadgets as much as the responses on the thread would indicate because:

      A) It's hard enough to get a wifi signal properly situated to get through bathroom mirrors and tile. We have to factor bathrooms into AP placement as is even though we do not cover them, because we have to shoot around them to get to other rooms.
      B) I personally don't want to be the one to do the WiFi surve

    • Simple. We've been assaulted with so much advertising in our lifetimes that we've become numb to it. It's white noise. The billions companies are spending to get our attention is going down the toilet (pun intended). What they're looking for now is a "captive" audience. Someplace where we can't ignore them or quickly get away from them. Where do we go everyday, multiple times a day, that we can't skip or go someplace else... the bathroom. They know it and they're trying to find a way in that won't b

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        ah, once again we see "Clearly everyone in the world is like me" syndrome.

        You have had a lot of ads. in your life time. 20 something have not had nearly as much as you have..

        Today's generation has no more or less attention span then yours.

  • Will it respond to the only important question: Who in the land is fairest of all? [wikipedia.org]

    And when it pure mirror mode, will it respond the truth or an augmented reality?

  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday September 02, 2011 @09:43AM (#37286394) Homepage Journal
    I stayed in an upscale hotel in Europe once where the TVs were disguised as fancy mirrors (with frame and all). When the screen was off it was a perfectly usable mirror and you could only tell the difference if you looked carefully.

    To me, this seems about as useful as those "internet on your refrigerator!" things that Bestbuy carries. Who wants to surf the web in the bathroom?
  • I know this is an average, but someone out there must be spending an awful lot of time in the bathroom to compensate for me being on the far left of the average.

    This is yet another solution looking for a problem.

    • by bkaul01 ( 619795 )

      I know this is an average, but someone out there must be spending an awful lot of time in the bathroom to compensate for me being on the far left of the average.

      Yeah, they're called women.

  • What the fuck? My shower is at most 30 minutes, if I feel like relaxing (avg 15 min). Other than that, a couple of minutes here and there to pee and wash my hands and a couple of minutes to poop, wipe and wash my hands. What the fuck is everyone else doing in there?
  • 15 minute shower, 5-10 minutes for number 2, and 5-10 minutes for number 1. And that's being generous. I don't see how you can spend an hour per day in the bathroom, and I certainly don't understand how half the population can spend more than an hour a day in there.

    • by Guidii ( 686867 )
      The ADA recommends that you brush your teeth for at least two minutes at least twice per day. Proper dental hygiene is important!

      And you might as well check your email while you're brushing, because there's not much else to do.... Still, this seems like a toy for the overly-wealthy.

    • Some of us wish we were that quick for a number 2, you insensitive clod. Seriously, it's somewhat rude to rub your well-behaved intestine in other people's faces (not to mention unsanitary).

  • Well it'll save sneaking the magazines from the bedroom stash into the bathroom. Not to mention avoiding getting the pages stuck together.
  • The only moment someone is in the bathroom and is able to use a computer is either sitting on the "white throne" or laying in the tub.
    In both cases I see the magic mirror at least out of a reach, if not completely useless.
    What's burning into your mind that requires you to use a PC while brushing your teeth, shaving the cheeks or putting your contacts on?

    • If you are a voyeur, that magic mirror is a must, provided that you install it at your favorite targets' bathroom and it has a hidden wide angle webcam.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      The only moment someone is in the bathroom and is able to use a computer is either sitting on the "white throne" or laying in the tub.

      And for those times, a small table and a laptop are sufficient.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      In the morning I check my email, my rss feed, the weather and traffic.

      Having a system in the bathroom that reads me the data I need while I'm brushing my teeth and shaving would save me that 15 minutes.

  • 1) What happens the first time somebody is in the shower and reaches out to hit the next page?
    2) Most bathrooms have the mirror on the same wall that the toilet is because most people don't like to look at them self while sitting there.
    3) Lots of germs if one is going to the bathroom and reaching over to a touchscreen, unless the wash their hands first, in which case item one comes into play.
    4) In most households and public restrooms the goal is to get people out of the bathroom quickly so others can use it

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      1) You don't, you either say 'next page', ot wave your hand. IT uses motion.

      2) It cans till read and display information.

      3) See 1

      4) I public restroom it would dis[play specific thing relating to the event ot location. Or so, that's how I would do it.

      5) It has a webcam.

  • 1.Make all the beta testers pretty girls.
    2."Leak" a security hole.
    4. Profit!
  • "which is built from an LCD display-cum-mirror,"

  • Scrape pics for Google
    Of my balls.

  • Oh yes, they must be looking at all the guys who disappear into the mens room with a copy of the local rag under their arm... You know the type of guy.. he sits there in the stall, trousers around his ankles, doing the crossword puzzle and reading the sports. And sometimes using it as a phone booth too.

    What could be better for that guy, than having the news already there waiting for him....

    Ugh... I just realized, sometimes the news IS there waiting for him... folded up behind the piping or stuffed into the

  • I love the thinking behind this, technology ubiquitously deployed so that it's everywhere: available, literally, instantaneously. The article mentions that we, and I'm assuming we means the average American in the USA, spend an hour in the bathroom every day. And the New York Times intends for us to use some part of that time to read their newspaper. hmmm...
    People spending that hour in the bathroom are busy doing their daily grooming which pretty much ties up their active eyesight and participation.

    The very

  • In Soviet Russia, mirror reads YOU .

  • Just another gadget to waste money on...I guess if you can use it to listen to the radio or TV news it could help get rid of other smaller electronics in the bathroom but HOW freaking' long are people staying in there anyway....ridiculous.
  • by hey ( 83763 )

    You might want to listen to the news on the radio when you are in the bathroom.

  • have the ability to stop taking our mobile computer of choice into the bathroom?
  • On average we spend an hour in the bathroom every day...

    Is this stat accurate? Because it would explain many things to me.

    Personally, I spend maybe 15 mins in the bathroom / day, and that includes shaving and showering. When I have to use the bathroom, I go in, do my business, and leave. Unless I am having some kind of "digestive issue", I am in and out of there in 1 minute, tops. I have always wondered why so many people want all this reading stuff by their crapper. If people actually spend this kind of

    • Good to know that you neither bathe nor brush your teeth. Or if you do anyway it's a half-ass rush job. Please do not share an elevator, car, small room, etc.. with me. Thank you.
  • Such a device, controlled and branded by the NYTimes (or any other single source media company) mmm... Nah...

    Take it apart and use the display with Chumby guts.... I see potential there.
  • In the bathroom, I might be showering, shaving, or shitting, but I'm not just sitting around wishing I had something to do until my official bathroom time is up. I'm busy. I'm pretty sure that's normal. The old idea of a TV or phone or microwave in the bathroom is comical, but that is not actually my favorite room in the house to hang out.

    Wait ... I didn't see this gem:

    [...] you will soon be able to stop taking your mobile computer of choice into the bathroom [...]

    What the hell?

  • On average we spend an hour in the bathroom every day

    Am i the only one who thinks this is grossly overstated ? I'm only getting to like 15-20 minutes a day maximum.

  • Get out and start working. World economy needs you!

  • I spend most my time on the toilet or taking a shower.

    I spend very little time in front of the mirror.

    And, I would think if your spending time in front of your mirror, it's because your maybe shaving, grooming, putting on makeup, or watching yourself masturbate. Oh, now i see what the "magic mirror" is for, my bad...

The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, "I've got responsibilities."