LAS VEGAS - I must preface this article with a story. A true story. It's 1989ish. I forget the exact date, but I had just begun shaving the sides of my head in sort of a wide mohawk. It went with the Docs, my Vespa, and my U.S. Army Fishtail Parka. You could call my fashion sense a cross between wannabe Mod, pseudo punk, and semi-Cure fan. The later because I wore lipstick. Cafe Mousse from Loreal, to be specific. It was a deep, rich red with a bit of purple/brown darkness to it.
Oh yeah. I was Cool™.
Anyhoo, a friend of mine suggested I wear eye liner*. This was on Halloween, and I knew it to be a splendid idea. She showed me how to apply it and after stepping back and admiring my new look in my bathroom mirror, I deemed it a success. I was surely fetching.
Bryan Chaffin in 1989, several months before this event I'm describing.
(I hadn't started shaving the sides of my head yet)
The two of us then went out to play pool in a dive bar in Austin. I enjoyed the reaction I got from folks and we had a great evening. But then I visited the bathroom, and this is how my tale feeds into this article. This bathroom was lit by a naked lightbulb. Bright. Very bright. White incandescent harshness seemingly intended to lay bear the secrets in my soul.
I approached the sink to wash my hands, and when I looked in the mirror, I stepped back** in fright. My skin is pale to begin with, but my head was freshly shaved on the sides and gleaming white. My lipstick and eyeliner were dark accents jumping out from my face. I looked intimidating, angry. I looked scary.
The reason why this was such a shock is that when I prepared myself for the evening, I did so in a bathroom with a soft yellow lightbulb that was probably 45 watts. This bar's bathroom had what I imagine were 120 watt bulbs, and in that light I looked a lot different than I had at my house.
Which was why I instantly grokked what Simple Human was doing with the Wide-View Sensor Mirror, a smart mirror you can control with your iPhone. Every year at CES I see a lot of stupid ideas for "connecting" some kind of mundane product with our iPhones, but this mirror from Simple Human is genius.
Wide-View Sensor Mirror from Simple Human
Firstly, it's a three-panel mirror intended for a vanity. It's pretty big, and it's aimed at people who apply makeup. It's made from a high quality glass that minimizes distortion, and it's lit with two strips of diffused LEDs that are motion-activated (9-inches or closer to the mirror itself). By default those LEDs are tuned to give you outdoor sunshine light, but it's the companion app for iOS (Android will eventually come) that sets this mirror apart.
By taking a photograph in a setting, the companion app can match the lighting of that setting on the mirror. For instance, a woman working in an office setting with, say, fluorescent lights can take a photo in that office. The app will capture the lighting conditions and when synced up with the mirror, the mirror will duplicate that lighting.
This allows you to make yourself up with your end-destination in mind. Lighting matters for these things, as I learned the hard way during my own makeup days. The same is true for actors, clowns, rock stars, men who wear makeup, or anyone else. Even if you don't wear makeup, you can use this mirror to better see what your clothes and hair will look like where you're going.
That's so clever in my book.
It has a built-in rechargeable battery, too, and it can last up to three weeks on a single charge.
Wide-View Sensor Mirror is priced at $400 and ships for free. On the retail side, it's being debuted exclusively at Neiman Marcus stores.
*I later dropped the lipstick in favor of eye-liner only.
**Fine, I jumped back.