'Magic' Mirror Reveals Body Changes As You Get Fit

Naked Labs Mirror
The Naked mirror uses infrared light to scan a person's body and create a 3D model. (Image credit: Naked Labs)

A new body-scanning mirror could soon have you asking, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fittest of them all?" But unlike the magic mirror from Snow White's tale, this new device will objectively respond with your body dimensions, weight and muscle mass, all displayed on a 3D avatar of your physique.

The device, called Naked, is the first 3D body scanner and fitness tracker designed specifically for people to use in their homes, said Ed Sclater, co-founder of Naked Labs, the California-based company behind Naked.

Naked consists of a mirror, scale and smartphone app. The full-length mirror is equipped with sensors along a black strip, which runs down the side of the mirror. The sensors contain Intel RealSense technology, which uses infrared lightto scan your body. This is similar to what an Xbox Kinect does. [Diet and Weight Loss; The Best Ways to Eat]

The scale sits in front of the mirror and rotates 360 degrees in 20 seconds. As you rotate on the scale, ideally wearing minimal, skin-tight, workout clothing, the sensors create 3D depth maps of your body at around 30 frames per second, Sclater told Live Science.

"We stick all those [maps] together to create your 3D body model," he said, which is accurate down to one-tenth of an inch.

With the app, users can get detailed measurements of their body, including weight, muscle mass and body fat percentage. (Image credit: Naked Labs)

Once your 3D body model, which is essentially a mini black-and-white avatar of yourself, is complete, the image and data are sent to an app that you can open on a phone or tablet. This happens within a minute after you step off the scale. You can rotate your avatar, zoom in on parts of your body and display your body measurements, including body fat percentage.

This measure is calculated using a method similar to a hydrostatic dunk-tank test, which compares how much you weigh in water versus on land to get your accurate volume. If you weigh significantly less in water, meaning you are more buoyant, you likely have a higher body fat percentage, because fat is lighter than water. Naked is "essentially a virtual hydrostatic dunk tank test," Sclater said. But, instead of using water, Naked uses your 3D body map to extract your volume.

The system can also pinpoint changes in muscle and fat for different parts of your body by analyzing shapes, Sclater said. For example, the shape of your arm and thigh will look very different if those body parts are dominated by fat or muscle; fat is generally rounder and less shapely, Sclater said.

The app allows you to understand your body and really see changes, the company said. The app displays bands that stretch across your neck, shoulders, chest, arms, waist and legs and shows their measurements and percentage of muscle and fat. The app saves successive measurements and allows you to compare them to each other, Sclater said. For instance, "If your biceps increase in size but your body fat percentage went down, you can assume that that change is a muscle increase," Sclater said.

Being able to see progress can encourage people and help them to stick with workout routines, Sclater said. In fact, only around 20 percent of people stick with health club routines after joining the sites at the beginning of the year, he said. When he looked into why those 20 percent stuck with their workouts he found that they stayed because they saw progress, "and that progress motivated them to continue," Sclater said. [How to Get Started on a Weight Loss Program]

To help motivate the 80 percent of people who lose their workout motivation, Sclater and his business partner, Farhad Farahbakhshian, created Naked, aiming to give people a visual context for the changes happening to their bodies, Sclater said. "This product is for literally anyone who wants the knowledge to take control of their health and wellness," Sclater said, whether it's the casual exerciser to the goal-oriented athlete.

Sclater and Farahbakhshian said they have received positive responses from people who have tried Naked. Almost every person who has tried the system has said, "Wow, I look better than I thought I did," Sclater said. It seems that an objective view is always better than people's perception of themselves, he added.

Naked can be pre-ordered now for a reserve price of $499 with a deposit of $95. The cost will gradually increase over the next 10 months until it reaches the retail price of $999, according to the company. The first shipment is expected in March 2017, Sclater said.

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Elizabeth Goldbaum
Staff Writer
Elizabeth is a staff writer for Live Science. She enjoys learning and writing about natural and health sciences, and is thrilled when she finds an evocative metaphor for an obscure scientific idea. She researched ancient iron formations in China for her Masters of Science degree in Geosciences at the University of California, Riverside, and went on to Columbia Journalism School for a master's degree in journalism, focusing on environmental and science writing.