Being told to smile by a stranger is an infuriating experience, full stop. And now cancer patients, people who really don’t need any more bullshit in their day-to-day, will experience it constantly, if industrial designer Berk Ilhan gets his way. Yes, even inanimate objects now think that you’d be much prettier if you just turned that frown upside down, even if you happen to be exhausted and nauseous and really not feeling well at the time.
The so-called “Smile Mirror” was developed as part of a portfolio of ideas for improving the emotional quality of life of cancer patients that also includes “a newspaper that only delivers the good and happy news.” Ilhan spent two years developing the mirror, which uses facial recognition technology to go from opaque to reflective when you quit being such a bitch and smile already. “Our facial expressions affect how we feel. If we flex our facial muscles to smile, our brains think that something good happened and as a result, [we feel] happiness,” Ilhan tells CNN Tech.
That said, the mirror doesn’t discriminate based on gender, allowing human beings of all types to experience this frustrating, patronizing occurrence for themselves. So maybe it does have value as an empathy-teaching tool. Ilhan seems to think the idea has potential, and is launching a Kickstarter campaign for the Smile Mirror “soon.” He hopes to get enough pre-orders to bring the price of the mirror down from its current estimate of $2,000-$3,000 to $500, and thinks that the idea has appeal far beyond a hospital setting. “If you give it to someone, you are gifting them a smile,” he says. Whether they like it or not.