Smart Mirrors: The definitive Enabler for Active and Healthy Ageing


María José Santofimia and Xavier del Toro García, University of Castilla-La Mancha


The smart mirror we will presenting is a hardware device equipped with different interacting interfaces such as touch screen, RFID reader, communications, speakers, or video and voice input devices. This platform is equipped with a set of services which, among the most relevant ones include: video call service, physical and cognitive exercises, reminders, data collector without requiring user intervention from smart bands, digital scales, fall detectors, smart home appliances, etc. 

Smart Mirrors as a Tool for Social Inclusion of Older Adults

María J. Santofimia, Oscar Aceña, Javier Dorado, Cristina Bolaños, Henry Lluminguano, Jesús Fernández-Bermejo

Loneliness and isolation, either real or perceived, are among the most leading factors to mental health problems, such as depression. The COVID-19 outbreak brought about a mandatory social distancing and isolation that had lead to severe psychosocial consequences,  such as late-life depression [1]. Online communication stood up as a valuable mechanism for preserving mental health, specially among older adults [2]. Nevertheless, access to online communication was not an option for an important part of the population with low technology literacy. It is a fact that, despite the potential benefits that technology has for older adults, they are very reluctant to embrace new technologies [3].

Video calls are one of these technologies that could help mitigating loneliness and isolation, especially for those older adults living alone. Moreover, this is also an important resource for accessing health care services remotely. This has many benefits, especially for those living in rural areas where such services are not provided or those that have limited mobility and depend on other people for accessing such services. Nonetheless, the access to such services is not a trivial or simple procedure for an important part of the older adult population due to aspects such as: limited digital skills, low confidence, and scarce experience in the use of technology [4].

There are currently different platforms for video call or remote communication. Most of these platforms can be run on different type of devices such as telephones, tablets, or PCs. This means that different interaction mechanisms are supported, such as touch screens, mouses, keyboards, or even voice commands. Furthermore, different operating systems, therefore, different interaction mechanisms are also considered. These platforms also introduce, very often, new developments and functions which make it more complex for older adults to efficiently use such tools.

There is therefore a compelling need to identify the main drawback or challenges that older adults have to face in order to make an effective use of video calls so that the can benefits from all the advantages that new technologies bring when it comes to ease and enable remote communication.

This analysis should start from the factors already identified as determinant for the use and adoption of new technologies, as the ones identified by Lee and Coughlin [5] from there, the focus will be addressed to identify the barriers and enablers found in the literature for the specific application of video calls [4][6][7]. Based on this analysis, the videocall solution presented here will be compared with the identified barriers and enablers.

The video call solution presented here has been specifically designed for an older adult audience. The interaction mechanisms have been minimized and touchscreen or navigation through user interfaces are avoided, although available. Furthermore, this solution is implemented over the Telegram network so, on the other end of the communication, only the Telegram application is required. This solution is deployed on a smart mirror platform that include an RFID reader as a basic element for the communication. In this sense, RFID cards, bands or keyrings are used to hold the required information to launch a call. The only interaction mechanism required by the user is that of approach the RFID tag to the reader, embedded in the mirror. 

This article presents the overall architecture designed under the SHAPES project[1] (Smart and Healthy Ageing through People Engaging in Supportive Systems), intended to simplify the process for older adults to use video call services both, as a meant to tackle loneliness and isolation and as a way to contact with health care services. In this case, the video call service has been embedded in a tool for at-home physical rehabilitation. This tool includes the functionality for contact the physiotherapist. This work describes the architecture of the calling service and its integration into a smart mirror platform. 


[1] Briggs, R., McDowell, C. P., De Looze, C., Kenny, R. A., & Ward, M. (2021). Depressive symptoms among older adults pre–and post–COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 22(11), 2251-2257.

[2] Galea, S., Merchant, R. M., & Lurie, N. (2020). The mental health consequences of COVID-19 and physical distancing: the need for prevention and early intervention. JAMA internal medicine, 180(6), 817-818.

[3] Chang, J., McAllister, C., & McCaslin, R. (2015). Correlates of, and barriers to, Internet use among older adults. Journal of gerontological social work, 58(1), 66-85.

[4] Naudé B, Rigaud AS, Pino M. Video Calls for Older Adults: A Narrative Review of Experiments Involving Older Adults in Elderly Care Institutions. Front Public Health. 2022 Jan 14;9:751150. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.751150. PMID: 35096731; PMCID: PMC8795665.

[5] Lee, C., & Coughlin, J. F. (2015). PERSPECTIVE: Older adults’ adoption of technology: an integrated approach to identifying determinants and barriers. Journal of Product Innovation Management32(5), 747-759.

[6] Schuster, A. M., & Hunter, E. G. (2019). Video communication with cognitively intact nursing home residents: a scoping review. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 38(8), 1185-1196.

[7] Isabet, B., Pino, M., Lewis, M., Benveniste, S., & Rigaud, A. S. (2021). Social telepresence robots: a narrative review of experiments involving older adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health18(7), 3597.