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This Simplehuman mirror gets a lot more interesting with Alexa

This Simplehuman mirror gets a lot more interesting with Alexa


Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what makes you so smart?

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You lock your front door with an app, you dim your lights using voice commands, and you adjust the temperature of your house from your phone. But is your smart home really that smart if you still pluck your eyebrows by looking in a mirror that isn’t wirelessly communicating with three other devices?

I’ve been using Simplehuman’s $250 Sensor Mirror Pro for the last week, and it’s available now on the company’s website. It’s an 8-inch round "smart" mirror that magnifies your face by 5x and 10x as you do things like apply makeup, trim pesky nose hairs and, yes, pluck your eyebrows. The mirror’s built-in sensor knows when your face approaches and turns on the mirror’s outer-rim light, which glows in over 50,000 color variations.

So yes, this mirror is geared toward a certain person who cares a lot about applying makeup in the right lighting — and doesn’t mind paying for luxury stuff. And no, it doesn’t display any data on its surface like some other ideas we’ve seen lately. But it’s part of a broader trend: connected-home technology breathing new life into otherwise dull devices. There are a lot of clever features in this mirror that make it more convenient and functional than it would be otherwise. When companies use smart home tech in the right way, products like this one suddenly become more talented.

For starters, this Simplehuman mirror uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to connect to an app and, from there, you can adjust its lighting to match preset light tones like restaurant, sunlight, or overcast. If you want to get more specific, take a selfie somewhere — like in your office — save it to the Simplehuman app, and your mirror will replicate that office lighting so when you apply makeup at home, it will look the same as it does under those glaring overheads.

You can link your Simplehuman mirror to your Nest Cam (via the Simplehuman app) so that your mirror can match the lighting of wherever your camera is aimed. If you have a Nest Cam trained on the front door for security, you could use its settings to apply makeup in light that matches that day’s overcast or sunny skies.

And Simplehuman’s Sensor Mirror Pro works with the ringmaster of the smart home, the Amazon Echo and its Alexa app. This lets you control the mirror with your voice, saying things like, "Alexa, ask sensor mirror to use the office setting," or "Alexa, ask Sensor Mirror to turn the color temperature warmer." This is especially helpful if you don’t have your phone handy and want to control the mirror. It’s also easier to ask Alexa to adjust the mirror when your fingers are covered in makeup or moisturizer and you don’t want to muck up your phone.

This mirror also integrates with IFTTT (If This Then That), so you can set up rules like getting an email reminder to charge the mirror when it’s running low on battery. You could use IFTTT to completely skip the Nest Cam step and set a rule that automatically adjusts the mirror to the overcast lighting preset on a cloudy day. You can even use IFTTT to link your mirror with Google Calendar so that the mirror auto-adjusts to its restaurant lighting when you have a dinner reservation.

Still, who cares this much about putting makeup on every morning? I sure don’t. I barely have have time to put makeup on at all, and when I do, it’s usually an edited version of what I might put on if I had more time. For people like me, one feature in this mirror is especially useful: a built-in timer / alarm that triggers the mirror’s light to blink when time is up. I used this a lot, turning it on with my voice by saying, "Alexa, ask Sensor Mirror to set timer to 10 minutes." This saves you from glancing away from the mirror to look at a watch or phone.

I found this mirror’s Amazon Echo / Alexa integration to be a huge convenience. But not everyone will find it as easy to use with Alexa if they don’t have their mirror in the same general area as the Amazon Echo. My Echo is in my bedroom and I used the mirror in an attached bathroom, which is just a short distance away.

Another clever feature in this mirror is a small, circular mirror that magnetically sticks in the center of the Sensor Mirror Pro when you need to see something magnified by 10x. When you're done with it, pull it off and stick it to a small hole on the back of the mirror.

The Sensor Mirror Pro skips a lot of the hassles you face with other smart home products. It’s wireless most of the time (a built-in rechargeable battery lasts four weeks) and it sits on your countertop so you don’t have to drill holes in the wall or run ugly cables through the house. It also just works when it’s not using "smart" features like Alexa voice prompts or light-matching with a Nest Cam.

It’s not a huge surprise that Simplehuman added digital smarts to a mirror. The company launched in 2000 with the goal of designing a better trash can, but soon grew to add other things around the home like shower caddies and soap pumps. Its lineup now includes squeegees, laundry hampers, and toilet plungers. These cost significantly more than, say, something you’d find at Target. Yet, as tempting as it is to roll your eyes at at $200 trash can or a $60 soap pump, the higher quality in these devices makes more sense when you think about how hard you use them each day. I own both a Simplehuman trash can (albeit a $40 one) and an a touch-free sensor soap pump (a wedding gift five years ago), and I really like using them. Simplehuman’s app already works with trash cans (to order you more trash can liners) and soap pumps (to order you more soap).

As of this week, Simplehuman’s $400 Sensor Mirror Pro Wide-view also connects to the Simplehuman app, Nest Cam, IFTTT, and Alexa for lighting adjustments. This mirror is a much bigger, three-pane deal that doesn’t have the 5x and 10x magnification of the round Sensor Mirror Pro I used. Its price and size are turn-offs for me, but someone with a larger bathroom and deep pockets might really like it.

Nearly everything in the home seems to be a candidate for newly-added smart home features, and some of them are actually working well, making old products feel new again. The value-add happens when something helps us simplify processes in our everyday lives. Just don’t hold your breath for the mirror that makes eyebrow tweezing pain-free.