Francis Bea

Soon, billboards won’t be the only medium that streams m ads. The next generation of advertising products is here and one startup from Luxembourg caught our eye. Mirror Bird has developed a facial recognition ad product that plays ads in a mirror.

As a representative told me at ad:tech, Mirror Bird is intended as a technological replacement for bathroom mirrors in public restrooms, pubs or small businesses that see a lot of foot traffic. The mirrors are installed for free, seeing as how the unit is supported by advertising. But the key differentiator of this mirror is the fact that it’s packed with an accurate facial recognition algorithm.

Mirror Bird is able to recognize key facial traits to figure out if you’re male or female. This is critical for ad targeting purposes, which are based on gender. For example, an ad for male deodorant would play when a customer walks in front of the mirror to wash his hands. A woman, on the other hand, would be streamed ads targeting the female gender, whether it’s for perfume, clothing brands or other products.

Of course, the facial recognition technology is more of a necessity in unisex rather than same-gender bathrooms. For now, Mirror Bird is installing their product in restrooms during the beta testing phase in Luxemburg.

All ad revenue is split between the partner (the business that installs the mirror) and Mirror Bird, 70 percent and 30 percent respectively. These partners can also elect to promote their own services in the mirrors through 5 second commercials that are free of charge.

The mirror that I checked out at the Mirror Bird booth was a prototype but the final product was in production. The ad admittedly wasn’t crystal clear under the light but I have to admit that the facial recognition technology was accurate. Male and female visitors were accurately identified and the ads played repeatedly. While the mirror isn’t intended solely for bathrooms, ironically enough it was difficult to use the mirror as a mirror for the 30 or so seconds that the ad was playing.

We’ve seen variations of Mirror Bird in movies, as well as prototypes that researchers have been developing so the applications for an ad-based product like this exist and are in demand. It’s the next generation of billboards that might for some time catch your eye.

While the technology and implementation of virtual ads in the real world is new, the effectiveness is based on the novelty of an ad that flashes in a location that we’d least expect it. If you’re a New Yorker who passes through Times Square on your way to work, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell me what companies have ads on the oversized billboards. Mirror Bird however opens up the possibility that may be one day ads can be displayed just about anywhere we go that’s outside of our own homes.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech New York event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.