Aspire Mirror Reimagined…
How does your media exposure and news diet impact your external and internal perceptions? Is there a way to reflect on your “newscape” that can support a range of goals aimed at consuming or producing a specified palette of news.
In the future, I believe half-silvered mirrors can be combined with digital surfaces and ccd sensors to enable individuals to analyze their newscapes in a way that evokes more empathy and reveals the perceptual impact of their news diet.
I have started this exploration with the creation of the Aspire Mirror. The Aspire Mirror is a device that enables you to look at yourself and see a reflection on your face based on what inspires you or what you hope to empathize with.
The Aspire Mirror currently works by presenting an inspiration panel that offers six lenses. At present, these lenses are set to evoke reflection on
- Oneness with nature
- Self Actualization
By using similar underlying physical components and changing the software, I am interested in how the mirror can become a platform in the participatory news space. What news lenses can be created? How can we shape the way in which we experience the news or interact with media?
Let’s imagine the mirror as platform and create new lenses and filters through which we can experience and experiment with news. One immediate exploration we can do is incorporate evocative art that then points observers to more information about a topic.
For example, the singer Usher released Chains on Tidal. The site with your permission tracks your eyes and only plays if you stare into the eyes of victims of violence. In a very literal way, Usher asks us not to look away. When you do look away or go to another tab in your browser, the music stops.
Since the website uses a black background, it offers a perfect backdrop for an Aspire Mirror. Anything that is black behind a half-silvered mirror does not shine through, hence black space translates to an unaltered reflective surface. The result of adding Chains as a lens to an Aspire Mirror is that the face of victims now can be reflected on to you. How does this change your experience of the song or method?
Inclusion in Tech: (Tangental, yet related note)
Programmed Tech Exclusion? Message on the screen reads, we are struggling to detect your face. Keep trying or click for the non-interactive experience.
Since my undergraduate days at Georgia Tech, I have been working with computer vision and using open-sources libraries like OpenCV. The algorithms at times reflect the lack of inclusion in the tech space in non obvious but important ways. Commonly used face detection algorithms are trained by providing a set of images that are described as human faces. The faces that are chosen impact what the software recognizes as a face. A lack of diversity in the training set arises to an inability to easily characterize faces that do not fit the normative derived from the training set.
As a result when I work on projects like the Aspire Mirror, I am reminded that the training sets were not tuned for faces like mine. However, we can do something about it. We can use the power of the crowd to create training sets that reflect more diversity. While there are overfit problems to contend with since training set size and accuracy do not have a perfectly linear relationship, we can create new methods that can better handle diversity in human faces. We can recode the system. And as the founder of @Code4Rights, I would be more than happy to explore this further.
**Is being coded out a benefit when considering issues of privacy?**
Smart Mirror Space:
The materials to create smart mirrors are widely accessible, and internet tutorials on how to make one have been around for a couple of years. One dad made a fantasy magical mirror for his daughter. The smart mirrors of the past tend to focus on sartorial uses, cosmetic application(Augmented Reality) or health monitoring (Wize Mirror) of some kind. More recently, a Google engineer has incorporated a news feed into a DIY smart mirror.
The question is no longer “can it be done?”, the question is “what now shall we build?”. How do we build inclusively?
Anyone who wants to explore the mirror as a platform or recoding face detection should let me know. Tweet me @jovialjoy