Hello again, gentle readers. It’s been a while, but we’re finally back to tell you all about the Magic Mirror we made for the 2016 Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. Check it out! It’s us, but also a book recommendation!

humans reflected in magic mirror displaying book recommendation

Got questions? So did the people we met at VMMF! We’re working on a more detailed blog post about how we made our mirror, but for now, here are answers to some common questions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is it?

Why it’s a magical mirror, of course! But instead of caring about your appearance (you look great, by the way), it gives you a random book recommendation. (Also, the magic is Raspberry Pi and Javascript.)

How does it work?

What you see here is a piece of 2-way mirror atop a computer monitor. That monitor is hooked up to a Raspberry Pi running the original Magic Mirror code. We created an additional module, based on the existing Weather module, that calls up the Goodreads API to generate random book recommendations from our to-read shelf.

Can I make one?

Yes, absolutely! We’re working on a more detailed blog post about how we made our mirror. For now, though, we’d recommend starting with this Magic Mirror code and these great blog posts by the original Magic Mirror creator. You can also find our Goodreads module on GitHub.

How much did it cost?

With a Raspberry Pi already on hand, we spent about $150.

Does it recommend books based on my face?

No, but we’re flattered that you think we could implement that. We like your privacy, and we don’t think your face actually says that much about what you’d like to read. (Unless maybe you’ve got a Harry Potter tattoo on your forehead.)

What’s that animal?

ramIt’s a baby ram jumping on a book. A talented team member used her 8-bit gif skills to create it after we started calling our mirror “the RAM” (for “Readers Advisory Mirror”). We library folk love acronyms.


What’s next?

We’d love to make the mirror more interactive by adding a motion sensor. For now, we’ll be using it to showcase Faculty Great Reads at the UBC Library’s Science Expo on Sept 22nd. If you have other ideas, please send them our way!

Who would you like to thank?

Just kidding, no one asked us this. We’d like to express some gratitude anyway. Huge thanks to the people who made this project possible, including:

  • The staff, faculty, and our fellow students at SLAIS, who generously donated bake sale money and let set up camp in the Kitimat Lab;
  • Adam Brykajlo, programmer extraordinaire, who was instrumental in creating the Goodreads module;
  • Our BFFs Krista and Jay, who sacrificed their Saturday so that we could have snack breaks at Makerfaire; and
  • Matthew Murray, esteemed ASIS&T Alumni, who forwarded the Magic Mirror idea and generously donated his FreeGeek credit for the purchase of our monitor.