Projects photo

Ditch your Post-it notes for reminders built right into a mirror. Software engineer Hannah Mittelstaedt programmed an old Android tablet to show time, weather, and other information in bright letters on a dark background. Place the device behind a two-way mirror, and only the text will shine through. “Something about brushing your teeth in front of it makes it feel more like the future,” she says. Download her open-source program to make your own smart mirror, or modify it to do more—Mittelstaedt’s can analyze her face to detect her mood.

This article was originally published in the January/February 2016 issue of Popular Science, under the title “A Reflective Dashboard for Your Morning Routine.”


  • Time: 2 hours
  • Cost: $30
  • Difficulty: Easy to medium



  1. Download the Home Mirror application and open it on your Android device. Set the screen brightness to maximum. If you plan to leave it permanently attached to the mirror, delete everything you can off the device.
  2. Measure and cut the black construction paper to cover the entire back of the mirror, except for where the device will sit and for an extra half-inch around each of its sides.
  3. Put an even coat of glue on the paper, and stick it to the mirror. Gently adjust its position, and let it dry for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Cut a strip of paper the height of the device and three times as wide. Glue the edge of the strip to the outside edge of the mirror’s uncovered area.
  5. Put adhesive strips on the side and bottom of the uncovered area. Press the free-hanging strip against the adhesive to form a pocket.
  6. Ensure no light leaks behind the mirror. Then place scrap material underneath the mirror and drill small holes at the top for hooks or nails. Drill slowly, and be careful: The acrylic of the mirror can melt and coat your drill bit.
  7. Slide the Android device into its pocket, hang your mirror within reach of a charging cord, and take a look.

Assembly Photos

Get all your materials together. A piece of paper between your mirror and the table will prevent the mirror from getting scratched up. Lydia Chain
Tracing Steps
Trace your device on the black paper, leaving extra space around the sides. Lydia Chain
Cut out the traced section of the paper. Lydia Chain
Glue the paper to the mirror and let it dry. Cut a strip for the pocket, and glue one edge of it to the mirror. Lydia Chain
Place adhesive strips on the edges of the uncovered area. Lydia Chain
Put the phone face down on the mirror to make sure your pocket is big enough. Lydia Chain
Adhesive Strips
Fold back the pocket strip, attach it to the adhesive strips, and seal the pocket with tape. Lydia Chain
Use a drill to make small holes at the top corners of the mirror. Then you can hang your mirror with nails, hooks, or fishing line. Lydia Chain