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Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, How Fat Will I Be?

Ever wondered what you might look and feel like in five years, if you stopped exercising and retired to "couch potatodom," started drinking heavily and indulged in any and every food craving you desired, every chance you got? If you can't imagine that, a "high-tech mirror" of sorts will do it for you.

Scientists at Accenture Technology's lab in France have replaced that mirror "on the wall" with a flat-screen LCD TV linked to a set of cameras and a super-charged image-processing computer. The system captures images of the subject taken all over a subject's house about his or her daily habits that are sent to a computer to build a lifestyle profile. And it will record the time you spent sitting on a couch and all those trips to the cookie jar too.

After the computer creates a profile, this system creates a digitally modified image showing the unhealthy effect of all those bad habits five years down the road, with the press of a button. Accenture says its system will feature several options for visual feedback. For example, if you eat and drink too much, your image will be modified to account for the extra weight, early wrinkles and poor skin.

The company hopes to complete its "mirror" by mid-year, if the behaviour recognition and image processing software can be finished in time. They want their system to work in real time, giving the user a genuine sense of looking into a mirror and seeing the ghosts of today's excesses being projected into the future.

Can you imagine what kind of image that mirror would reveal, if you made the conscious decision to optimize your diet according to your body's unique nutritional type and began an exercise program today?

New Scientist February 2, 2005

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