Looking Glass is a smart mirror app prototype that combines a genuine self-image with beauty product recommendations to enhance natural features. It is an app that transforms both android & iOS phones into an efficacious mirror that reveals the real individual and allows girls and nonbinary teens to embrace their natural features. Unlike other AR beauty apps (YouCam, Modiface, Sephora) Looking Glass will help its users control their own image and feel more confident because it allows the user to layer on make-up looks without being overly heavy handed.
When I was given this project, I was tasked with designing a ‘smart mirror’ app for mobile phones that provides a better experience than the native camera app for 13-19 year old girls. My first step was to do user research into this demographic. I found various articles and documentation from Forbes, Vox, CNBC, and Google describing what these teens valued and what they looked for in their brands. It was important that I could find articles that directly quoted or interviewed these teens. It became clear that these teens wanted a greater range of representation, more authentic experiences, and products that directly catered to their needs. From there, I created 2 personas for the Looking Glass. The main persona (Sasha) is a beauty blogger that hates toxicity found in the beauty industry and is striving to find confidence in herself while also empowering teens like her. The secondary persona (Kim) is a more politically minded, nonbinary teen looking for brands they can put their trust in while also pushing for better representation in these brands.
Looking Glass has 4 main features that you can see playing in this gif (in order).
Calibration - This feature is the biggest differentiator from any other camera app. Parts of our body (eg: nose) that are closer to the camera often appear much bigger than when we look in a mirror. Selfies change how we view our natural selves and make us more self-conscious. This feature corrects distortions caused by distance by using perspective-manipulation technology.
Lighting - When doing a risk assessment matrix, lighting is a low risk, easy win. It already exists in many smart camera apps and it is essential to any picture taking app. We have all had an amazing dressing room light selfie.
Enhance Natural Features - Figuring out what product goes best with our skin can be a difficult chore so using Modiface’s API, this app can hone in and enhance your natural glow with the best recommendation that matches the user’s skin.
AR Make-up - Currently, make-up filter apps (Modiface App, Snapchat Lenses, YouCam) only provide extremely glam, caked on make-up looks. Looking Glass enhances this Modiface feature by allowing the user to add or subtract make-up layers. By empowering the user to control the amount of make-up they want to use, they feel more confident.
Understanding the User
Before focusing on how the main features function, it was important to get inside a potential user’s head and create an empathy map. I decided to continue with the main persona, Sasha, because she would be an influencer — one of the first users of the app that would introduce it to her following. Here you can see a greater range in what Sasha feels, things, sees, hears, says, and does. Though Sasha wants to change conventional beauty standards and is empowered by brands like Glossier, she is still self-conscious and has insecurities. These conflicting emotions of a teenager will reflect how Sasha explores the app itself as well.
Here is how Sasha would engage with Looking Glass. Because the experience of a beauty blogger would have a lot of out of app research and usage, it was important to showcase how the user’s journey differed before, during, and after the app. Though Sasha performs similar actions of taking and editing selfies and researching looks, her life gets easier and she can explore more trends faster that will fit her brand because of the app. You can also see her how her internal monologue changes as she explores different features that help control her own image and make her feel confident in her look.
Before going into the wireframes, I created the site map to organize the information. Because this app relies on the user to enter external links (social media and make-up sites) it was essential to indicate when the user would be directed to these sites. It was also important to understand how the key features would be highlighted, which features should always be available, and how the user would move through each feature. Calibration, since it is the major differentiator from any other or beauty mirror app, should always be available.