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If you're bored with your little smartphone and less-little tablet, you might consider investing in one of the latest impressive touchscreen devices: mirrors. The idea sounds either very silly or totally obvious depending on your opinion of the future of technology. And it's bound to lead to more Snow White jokes that you'd care to hear. Either way, the touchscreen computer mirror is real, it's here and it's actually pretty useful.

The latest model is geared towards medical applications. Showcased in a just published Wall Street Journal article, these "smart mirrors" come equipped with myriad sensors, cameras and a touchscreen display built right into the reflective surface. Unlike previously released quasi-novelty mirrors made for the bathrooms of the very wealthy, these devices are built for the specific purpose of helping sick people get better. They do it by monitoring vital signs and providing guidance in various physical therapy applications. One specific model first released in 2010 and now being perfected sounds like a Star Trek prop. The Medical Mirror -- obvious name, we know -- uses heart-rate monitoring technology first developed for the iPhone. It literally reads your pulse by looking at the changes in the color of your face.

Of course, electronics companies are also interested in selling things to go into the bathrooms of the very wealthy, too. Panasonic started accepting orders for its smart mirror earlier this year, complete with a computer behind two-way glass. It's $38,000. Another Japanese company, Seraku Corp., has a model that connects to the web and displays news, traffic reports, reminders and so forth. This sounds a bit like the concept that The New York Times revealed last year: a mirror-based information center for the bathroom of the future. No idea how much that one costs.

These things are fun to look at, but the reality is that they'll show up in hospitals and hotels long before the everyday American household. In the meantime, you can still duct tape your iPad to your bathroom mirror. That basically accomplishes the same goal.


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