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Build an homemade High-Tech mirror with an old phone

Build an homemade High-Tech mirror with an old phone

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Build an homemade High-Tech mirror with an old phone

Added 2016-01-02

Build an homemade High-Tech mirror with an old phone

Interested in building your own high-tech mirror for your home? You have an old smartphone or tablet that you don't use anymore? In this post, I will show you how I build my own high-tech mirror with two old smartphones, a few bucks and a couple of hours of my time. The mirror I built display the time, the date, the temperature and custom motivational quotes, but you can modify what it will display if you have a little bit of programming knowledge. If you don't, it's ok, you will be able to use my application. Simply follow this tutorial and you should be fine!

List of required materials

First of all, you need to have some material ready. Some of these things are not mandatory, but I will list everything that I used anyway so you could build the same if you want. I will separate required materials from the optional. Of course, you can add your own personal touch and you don't need to follow everything perfectly, but it will give you an idea.

Required materials

  • A two-way mirror sheet This is the most important. You can easily order a sheet online on this website, on even on Ebay. I personally ordered mine on Ebay.

  • An old tablet or smartphone In my example, I took two old iPhone I don't use anymore (on Android now!), but you can use only one phone if you want, or even a tablet.

  • A piece of black paper, the size of your mirror

  • Velcro tape

  • A cutting knife

That's pretty much it for the required materials. For the two-way mirror sheet, you can ask for a specific size on the websites mentioned above.

Optional materials

Here are listed materials that I used for the building of my mirror, but you don't necessary need them.

  • A frame for your mirror

  • An old USB hub A USB hub is an accessory on which you can plug multiple USB devices. You will want to use this if you are using more than one device on your mirror.

How to build the high-tech mirror

Getting the two-way mirror

The first step is obviously to get a two-way mirror. As I mentioned earlier, you can obtain one on this website or on Ebay. I took mine on Ebay and it cost me around $20. You can also look for mirror businesses in your city, you will probably be able to find something.
What is a two-way mirror exactly? It is a mirror allowing a percentage of incident light to pass while reflecting the remainder. We will use this particularity of the mirror to let the light of the devices pass and reflect images in front of the mirror.
Here is the piece of mirror I've ordered. You can see that it reflect and that we can see through it at the same time.

Two-way mirror

We can see through the mirror because of the high percentage of ambient light behind. For that same reason, my reflect isn't really precise. If we want a more precise reflect, we need to remove the luminosity behind the mirror. This is the reason why we will use the black paper behind the mirror, just like this:

Two-way mirror

See that the reflect become more precise and clean. The mirror seems scratchy and dirty, but it is simply a protective plastic covering the mirror.

Getting the frame

If you don't want to use a frame simply skip this part, but I will quickly show you what I used for my frame. I had a framed picture of New-York which I wasn't using anymore in my house. I simply removed the picture and kept the black plastic frame. If you don't have access to an empty frame, you can use sticky hooks to hang your mirror.

Getting a frame

Bye bye New-York!

Getting the black piece of paper ready

You need to cut a piece of black construction paper the same size as your mirror. As mentioned earlier, it will restrain the light to pass from behind and give a clean reflect.

Black paper for mirror

Now, you need to make hole(s) for your device(s). Since I used two iPhones, I made two holes in the paper, one at the bottom left and another at the top right. I measured the iPhones screens size and cut two pieces of paper of that same size. I then used these pieces of papers as stencils and I cut holes into the black piece of paper.

Cutting holes through the black piece of paper

I could have cut directly into the black piece of paper, but I wanted to visualize where to cut the holes.

Assembling the mirror

Time to get everything together! First you need to make the devices hold on the mirror. To do this, I simply applied Velcro tapes on phones and on the black construction paper.

Applying velcro tape

Then, I placed the mirror into the frame with the black paper behind. I also made some place for the USB hub with Velcro tape since I'm using multiple devices. I wired the phones to the USB hub and used plastic hangers to hold every wires.

Placing USB hub behind mirror
Everything wired behind mirror

And that's it! Our mirror is assembled and almost ready to be hanged.

Open the application with your device

Now that our mirror is complete, we still need to display something on the phones. I've build two little applications, one for each phone. If you don't have any programming skills, it's ok, you can directly use my applications on your devices. Here they are: application 1 and application 2. The first one display motivational quotes. The second one display time, date and temperature.
By default, temperature in the second application will be the reading from Montreal since this is my city, but I've coded a little special thing for you! You can get the temperature for your own city if you add ?city=YOUR_CITY_NAME in the URL. For example, the URL http://www.barfuhok.com/interactive-mirror-2/?city=florida will display the temperature for Florida.
Now you simply need to open one of these two (or both) URL on your device with your browser. Tadaa! Your phone is now displaying the application.

Open the application in a full screen browser

You may have noticed that you still have the address bar and notifications at the top of your phone, but we want the application to display full screen! We need a browser able to go full screen. For my iPhones, I used the free Umbrella Browser application. If you have an Android device, make a search in the Google Play store and you will find something. Once the app installed, open it and paste the URL of the application. You are now able to go full screen and got rid of the address bar!

Coding your own application

If you do not have basic programming knowledge, skip this step. If you know a little bit about coding, you can make your own application, it's really easy. For my apps, I used HTML and CSS to display elements. Then, with Javascript, I used a timer to display the local time and another one which fetch data from the Yahoo API with Ajax. The Yahoo weather API allows you to fetch temperature data from any city in the world for free. If you want more information about it, here is the API.

Use my code

If you want to use my code, here it is. You can use it, edit it, do whatever you want with it, but simply give me credit by linking to this blog post. Thanks!
Code for phone #1 (inspiring quotes)
Code for phone #2 (date, time, temperature)

Enjoy the final result

Yes, this is done! All you need to do now is to hang your mirror on the wall and enjoy the result! Admit it, it gives a really cool looking result.

How to build an homemade high-tech mirror

If I build another one in the future, I would use a tablet instead of phones. It would give a larger area and I will be able to display more content from the device.
I hope you like that tutorial and I hope you build a nice badass looking mirror. Contact me and share a picture of your project!