Innovation

Through The Looking Glass: 'Wize Mirror' Uses Facial Recognition To Spot Signs of Disease In 60 Seconds

mirror
The Wize Mirror claims to predict your risk of heart disease by just looking at you. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The Wize Mirror is the world’s first mirror to not only help you get that spinach out from in between your teeth, but also give a complete health check. According to a recently released paper, an innovative mirror will scan users’ face for telltale signs of disease and predict their risk for developing life-threatening health problems — all in around 60 seconds.  

The Wize Mirror may look like a mirror, but it is actually a highly advanced 3D scanner complete with gas scanners and facial recognition technology. When an individual gazes into the high-tech looking glass, their face will be scanned for tell-tale signs of illness, such as changes in fatty tissue content, fluctuations in facial coloring, and even indications of stress and anxiety displayed in an individual’s facial expression, New Scientist reported. Gas sensors in the mirror will simultaneously take samples of the user’s breath to gauge drinking and smoking habits, and a multispectral camera will measure their heart rate and hemoglobin levels.

These facial scans will combine to give users an accurate update on their health status in the form of a numerical reading. The Wize Mirror will also offer users personalized tips on how to improve their health based on their scores.

Javier Hernandez, an engineer who developed a program called SenseGlass, which uses Google Glass to monitor users’ mood, told New Scientist that mirrors offer an ideal outlet for health monitoring because we use them everyday without even realizing it. The Wize Mirror’s eventual goal is to calculate users’ health in the time it takes for them to complete their morning bathroom routine.

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The Wize Mirror technology is the product of European Union funding and researchers believe that, upon its completion, the tool will offer patients an effective non-invasive way to monitor for often over-looked yet deadly health problems, most notably cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and stroke, kill around 38 million people each year, the World Health Organization reports. Unlike other health problems, cardiovascular disease is not limited to those with unhealthy lifestyles and can even affect healthy Olympic athletes. This makes them particularly hard to spot in its early stages. Metabolic diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, are characterized by high blood sugar and obesity and can significantly increase a patient's risk for developing deadly health conditions such as heart disease. Unfortunately, both these conditions are difficult to detect. Developing methods of identifying those at risk of developing these health problems is just as important as working to treat them.

Despite its potential, the Wize Mirror is not available for public use quite yet. According to Hernandez, challenges such as illumination changes and excessive motion can make it difficult to get an accurate health reading from a mirror. Starting next year, researchers will begin clinical trials in Italy and France in order to compare the mirror’s health reading against traditional medical devices.

Source: Colantonio S, Coppini G, Germanese D, et al. A smart mirror to promote a healthy lifestyle. Innovations in Medicine. 2015.

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