Most personal smart mirrors on the market are little more than gimmicks—a glass mirror with touch screen displaying things like the weather and Twitter—but there are some hints toward a greater utility. For example, stores have installed smart mirrors with cameras that function as shopping assistants, allowing buyers to view and compare a selection of outfits. 

Now researchers at the European Project SEMEOTICONS (an awkward acronym for "SEMEiotic Oriented Technology for Individual's CardiOmetabolic risk self-assessmeNt and Self-monitoring") have developed a smart mirror prototype that may help improve your health. And unlike other health technologies that rely on users to adopt a new behavior, like step counters or calorie-counting apps, this technology capitalizes on something that became routine before pre-school: checking yourself out in the mirror.

The Wize Mirror is based on the idea that the face is a major indicator of a person's well being. It uses a variety of sensors to check your risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases—diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, some of the leading killers in the world—as they might be expressed in your face. Cameras analyze your skin color to assess oxygenation and heart rate, while a 3D scanner looks for signs of weight change or swelling. Gas sensors check for alcohol intake and evidence of smoking through molecules in your breath. Facial recognition software evaluates your facial expressions for signs of anxiety and fatigue. The mirror then displays a score evaluating how healthy you appear, and delivers advice on how to improve your health.

You can learn more about the research, development, and design of the Wize Mirror in this video.

Researcher Massimo Martinelli, with the Italian National Research Council at the Institute of Information Science and Technologies, Pisa, tells mental_floss that the goal is for the Wize Mirror "to be friendly, usable by anyone in the home, but that can also be placed in pharmacies and fitness centres. The non-intrusiveness of the mirror increases its usability, and represents a  significant improvement with respect to existing solutions, which often require the user to wear obtrusive electronic systems to acquire data.”

The mirror is heading into clinical trials; the subjects are healthy volunteers aged 25 to 60. If the prototype is effective at assessing cardiometabolic risk and influencing behaviors to improve health, Martinelli suggests the technology could “monitor face signs highlighting factors related to other kinds of risks (and disease),” including signs of jaundice in people with liver disease and symptoms of hyperthyroidism in those suffering from Grave’s disease.