Thursday, July 29, 2021


Here is a fun weekend activity that will challenge tech savvy children in an entertaining way . You can help them to make a smart mirror, which will display all kinds of information on a blank screen. Of course, this ‘mirror’ is really just a screen or monitor. It can display dates, calendar days, the music you’re playing, a welcome message, etc. This is project that may sound like an expensive endeavor but us actually relatively cheap to do; as you’re only using a raspberry pi which costs about $30 to $50. All you need is a little bit of know-how on to use it and the kind of software you’ll need to download to make the smart mirror.


Get the raspberry pi 

You can buy the raspberry pi from almost anywhere. But go with the official website if you can. It's a tiny computer which has the basics, but it performs very well. The pi is so small that it can fit within your own hand. 

It's easy to set up. All you need are a few basics such as USB cables, an SD card and a few power wires which you get with a raspberry pi when you purchase one. There are lots of variations, some of them are small and simple, costing about $5 and there are larger more complex pis that cost anywhere from $30 - $100. The pi was developed by a British company, mainly to challenge and inspire children, as well as parents, who want to create smart tech around their homes.

The smart mirror 

First, download Magic Mirror software as well as Belena Etcher which will help you to set the functions of your smart mirror and display the kind of information you want. You will need a keyboard and a mouse, a USB-C to hook up to the pi, an SD card and adaptor, a micro-HDMI for the display, and a Pi-4 computer

You can use a case for the computer to prevent the parts from being damaged, especially since you will be keeping the computer close by to the screen or TV. You can buy these Raspberry Pi cases online for next to nothing. 


So why make a smart mirror in the first place? Other than being an easy educational project for the kids it can be interacted with by your other tech around the house. For example, if you install an API in the Raspberry Pi’s smart mirror, you can use your laptop to change the information on the screen and or find out what is on the screen anywhere you are. Here is the API definition if you don’t know what this is. It's simple a messenger software that interacts with requests and brings forth the information desired. 

This STEM focused project can be done within an hour or so if an adult was to do it but if you let your children take over it could keep them occupied for a good part of an afternoon. Not to mention, turning their boring computer screen into a smart mirror is pretty fun.

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