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Today I’m going to show you how to make a complete DIY Smart Mirror.

(Step-by-step)

In fact, after reading this guide you will be able to make your own with no real expertise. That’s right, you don’t need woodworking or programming to make one (unless you want to).

Max Braun Smart Mirror Designs Header

To get started with this, let me show you some of the smart mirrors we and our clients have built.

Let’s dive right in…

Possible Features & Capabilities

Think about the features you want in your smart mirror and what you have to work with. For most people doing this on a tight budget, touch capability is typically not recommended.

WAYS OF CONTROL

  • Keyboard & Mouse
  • Touch Screen
  • Facial Recognition/Camera
  • Alexa Voice Control
  • Google Home Voice Control
  • Buttons

OPERATING SYSTEMS

  • Linux
  • Windows
  • Android
  • iOS
  • XBOX 360
  • PS4
  • Wii U

The most popular set up is a recycled computer monitor connected with a Raspberry Pi 3 B+, loaded with magicmirror.builders software. Simple. Cost effective.

Step #2: Touch Technology Considerations

IR Touch Overlay vs. Touch Foil

With an IR Touch Overlay, you will need woodworking experience to frame it up. The IR Touch sizes match TV sizes with a 16:9 ratio, and are not typically found as a standard size frame you can order online. With the touch foil, you can use any size screen and mirror, so this does open up more possibilities for ordering a pre-made frame and standard mirror size.

Below are some examples of Samsung TVs that have been framed up to the view-able area of the screen with an IR Touch Overlay installed on top of the mirror, underneath the frame.

Smart Mirror Frame

Framed Smart Mirror with a
Modern Black Frame

Framed to the viewable area of the screen, this smart mirror is on top of a huge display grid to show off it's features. It is letting people know about the weather, the time and more.

Titanium Smart Mirror
with Raspberry Pi

touch-screen-smart-tv-hidden-television

65″ Samsung (Portrait Mode) with
Intel Compute Stick

The IR Touch Overlay can be larger than the TV. However, this is not recommended unless you want to hide a camera behind the mirror.

IR Touch Overlay

ir touch overlay assembly

Connecting IR Touch Frame

With this technology, the display is on the bottom, followed by the mirror, then the IR Touch Overlay on top. From there you will cover the overlay with a frame to hide it from view and to hold the smart mirror together.

This is the most popular way to add touch because it is less expensive and easier to find than the touch foil.

IR Touch Overlay Purchasing Checklist

Make sure the IR Touch Overlay and Mirror Size are the Same!
Check operating system compatability
Buy from a trusted supplier

Recommended Suppliers

Touch Foil

touch foil

Example of a Touch Foil

The touch foil is ideal for projects where the TV is smaller than the mirror, and you want to customize the mirror size to be any size. It is also great for frameless smart mirror projects because  you can simply apply this to the back of the mirror and hide the TV/monitor within the wall.

Touch Foil Purchasing Checklist

Make sure it works with mirrors that have aluminum in the mirror coating
Look at the specs to be sure it can handle 3mm to 6mm thick glass
Make sure it is compatible with your operating system and display
Find a trusted supplier

Step #3: The Monitor

Any old computer monitor will do. If you’re in the market for something new, here is my complete list of recommended monitors.

Examples of Good Monitors & TVs

The thinner the better, especially if you have no framing experience. This is because when you have a thicker display, the overall frame has to be wider and it is difficult to find frames thick enough that are pre-made at Walmart, Meijer, etc.

Step #4: The Frame

For framed smart mirror projects, I recommend going with a 2.5″ frame width or larger if you are doing the framing on your own and are framing to the view-able area of the screen.

If you are buying one that is ready to go (no woodworking experience required), a shadowbox frame is your best option. After  you have selected your monitor, check the thickness and find a shadowbox frame that can hide it completely, factoring the glass in front (1/8″ to 1/4″ in thickness). This will give you the best look in the end.

Examples of Good Shadowbox Frames

You want it to be thick enough to house your monitor and computer, but as thin as possible so it is not like a cube sitting on your desk or hanging on the wall. When you are on the hunt for the perfect frame, make sure the insert is removable so you can replace the clear glass with the special mirror.

black smart mirror frame

If you cannot find what you are looking for, check out our Smart Mirror Frame product. We build custom size frames with a thin, modern frame that has a lot of depth. The standard frame thickness is 2.5″ and we can double this up to 5″ to fit even the thickest display behind the mirror.

Step #5: The Mirror

Mirror Choices For DIY Smart Mirror Projects

Glass Two Way Mirror

70% Reflective
11% Transparent
Bronze Tint

Glass Smart Mirror

70% Reflective
30% Transparent
Color Neutral

Acrylic Two Way Mirror

70% Reflective
30% Transparent
Silver Tone

Dielectric Mirror

30% Reflective
70% Transparent
Color Neutral

How do I read technical specifications?

Let me review with you what the technical specifications are telling us. The % reflection is on a scale of 0 to 100, 100% being a standard mirror. So, the glass two way mirror, acrylic two way mirror and glass smart mirror are all 70% reflective. This means they will all look almost identical to a standard mirror where the screen is black.

Transparency = Display Quality

The transparency percentage is the most important number! This is because it tells you how much of the display quality you see through the mirror. It puts this number on a scale of 0 to 100, 100% being clear glass or no mirror at all. The glass two way mirror is 11% transparent, so it is blocking 89% of the light coming through. It’s like viewing a television with sun glasses on!

The display has a black background with white text.

In the picture above there is an image with a black background and white text, as well as a color wheel below each title. This is to simulate what your diy smart mirror will look like with each mirror type. If you are familiar with this application at all, this is super obvious why we would compare them this way!

It is obvious who the winner is. Notice with the Dielectric Mirror, the color wheel is much brighter and the text is white and easy to read. However, the reflection tint is not the closest match to a standard mirror.

The Acrylic Two Way Mirror has a nice grey tone and is color neutral.

Check it out! The Glass Smart Mirror has a crisp reflection and a bright color wheel. This resembles a standard mirror the closest out of all of the options.

Finally, the Glass Two Way Mirror is very hard to see as the reflection overpowers the text and color wheel.

Most people only want to know:

Can they use the acrylic for their project?

That is a loaded question to say the least! There are many factors. I want you to select with confidence the correct mirror that you will be happy with.

diy-smart-mirror-display
It is going into a frame
You are not using touch
Your mirror is smaller than 24″ x 48″
The mirror is larger than the screen

Why the size cap?

The acrylic material is bendy by nature. When the thickness is 1/8″, the largest size we recommend is 12″ x 24″, or 24″ x 28″ if you go with the thicker material.

Insider note: If you are doing touch and go with the acrylic, the IR Touch Overlay will interefere due to bendiness. Avoid this at all cost.

Acrylic does have a plastic edge,
so you will want to cover it with a frame.

Now that we have that out of the way-

Let's check out the glass options.

Glass Two Way
70% Reflective
11% Transparent
Bronze Tint

Glass Smart Mirror
70% Reflective
30% Transparent
Color Neutral

Dielectric Mirror
30% Reflective
70% Transparent
Color Neutral

For one reason or another, you’ve decided at this point to go with glass. There are two main configurations for a smart mirror. Either the mirror and display are the same size, or the mirror is larger than the display.

framed smart mirror using dielectric mirror

When the Mirror & TV Are the Same Size

If the mirror and display are the same size, the Dielectric Mirror is the best choice. This is because the frame can cover the bezel of the tv, so even though it is very transparent, it will not be obvious. Once installed you will be happy you chose it! The display quality is the ultimate, even in bright lighting conditions.

Large Max Braun Smart Mirror

If Your Mirror is Large and Your TV is Small

When the mirror is larger than the display, you will want to choose a mirror that has a higher reflection. This allows the TV to vanish completely.
 
In smaller sizes, the Glass Two Way Mirror and Glass Smart Mirror are about the same price. For larger mirrors, the Glass Two Way Mirror is a great budget option.

The Glass Smart Mirror is available in an ultra-thin 3mm thickness, as well as a 6mm thickness. The display quality through the mirror is 3 times brighter than a standard Glass Two Way Mirror.

Step #6: Computer and Software

Choose the best computer and software for your smart mirror. You want to look at your ultimate goal list and find out which functions are most important to you, so yo can decide on which computer and software to purchase to give you the most functionality.

The most basic functions can be achieved with a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ with the magicmirror.builders software. Super easy. Open source. It’s super small so it will fit in well with your overall build. It’s a total win. If you are programming savy, there are a ton of 3rd party modules that add more functions to the mirror.

Here is my complete list of computer/software combinations.

Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Computer

raspberry-pi

The Raspberry Pi 3 B+ is the latest model available and is compatible with magicmirror.builders software.

diy smart mirror guide 2018

Smart Mirror with Raspberry Pi 3

Linux Smart Mirror Software

(No Programming Required)

The MangoMirror software can be downloaded to your Raspberry Pi 3 B+ for free from their website. From there, to configure and control the mirror, you must have an iOS device (iPhone or iPad) where you download the free app that controls the widgets on the screen.

Android

(No Programming Required)

The MangoMirror also supports Android systems. Here are the facts on what you need to get this working.

  • Android Fire Tablet + iOS device
  • Fire TV+Display that has an HDMI Port + iOS device

You still control the Smart Mirror screen via an iOS app, but you can put an Android Fire Tablet behind the mirror. You can also plug in an Android Fire TV stick into a display via the HDMI port to get the Smart Mirror display up and running. Get the installation instructions here.

Step #7: Putting it Together

OK, so you have all the parts.

Let’s face it, that is the easy part!

That’s because putting a smart mirror together can be very involved with woodworking skills, programming, and specialized tools.

I have tried and tested over 20 different types of paint, adhesives and so on. Here are my top recommendations for attaching the display to the mirror:

Blacking Out the Back of the Mirror

In most smart mirror setups, the screen is smaller than the mirror. This requires you to “black out” the back of the mirror, everywhere except for where the screen is to give you that amazing mirror finish. If you do not do this, you will see through the mirror. Here are my top choices:

Recommended Adhesives

For diy smart mirror projects, a main component is attaching the screen to the mirror in some way since the screen is usually smaller than the mirror. I recommend using black VHB tape and Black Mirror Mastic Glue. Both of these options offer a good bond with glass.

Download PDF Tutorial Guides

Brushed Black Smart Display3

Frame your tv right to the view-able area of the screen.

  • Woodworking Tools Needed
  • Make With Dielectric Mirror
  • Add Raspberry Pi 3 or Intel Compute Stick

Now I'd Like to Hear From You

There you have it:

My ultimate DIY Smart Mirror Guide for 2019.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Which features are you going to include in your DIY Smart Mirror?

Are you going to program Voice Control on your Raspberry Pi?

Or maybe you want to try making it a Touch Screen Smart Mirror.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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Ram Galura
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Ram Galura

Do you ship here in the philippines??

How much is a 32 inches ir touch overlay and two way mirror or glass smart mirror?

Chelle
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Chelle

Do you ship here in the Dubai UAE? if so, please advise me cost for each options.
Thank you,

Roberto D
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Roberto D

Hi! I’m just curious because you recommend UCN’s touch foil…how do I actually go about buying the touch foil from them? Their website doesn’t seem to offer any means of actually making a purchase. Are there resellers/distributors I should look at? Thanks!

Mohammed
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Mohammed

Hi Krista,

I’m looking for 32″ frame, Glass Smart Mirror or Glass Two Way Mirror (whichever is the best) and IR Touch overlay, can you please tell me how much it is going to cost + shipping to UAE “Dubai”.

I’ve seen your YouTube channel and I like it!
I wanted to build one by myself after I got inspire by your videos, but I’m hesitating whether I will find all the requirements here “Dubai” or not.