Spokane-based startup debuts digital mirror display
Vitreous begins accepting orders, starts productionJanuary 14th, 2016
Spokane-based startup company Vitreous has unveiled its first product, a digital mirror display that can access the Internet or content from a user’s smartphone.
Robb Anthony, CEO, part-owner, and lead engineer of Vitreous, says a group of 12 potential customers gathered last month to see the product on display at an event hosted in the Washington Cracker Building, at 304 W. Pacific, in downtown Spokane.
The product, also being marketed under the Vitreous name, looks like an ordinary mirror, 18 inches wide by 24 inches tall, but upon activation it’s able to display a seven-inch high definition video screen in the top left corner. It also is capable of producing sound at greater volumes than many tablets and phones can project, Anthony says. When not in use, the mirrored surface conceals the screen, and its outside frame can also be customized to match a user’s décor.
Vitreous starts at $299, but the company offers discounts for customers purchasing in bulk. The product comes in six variations, four of which can be configured to match different devices such as Android phones or Apple products. It can also be built to custom specifications.
“We knew we would need at least two models to start, one for Apple and one for Google Chromecast,” says Anthony.
He describes his idea in creating Vitreous as finding a solution to the problem of not wanting to put down your phone while getting ready for work.
“As a millennial, I’m always glued to my phone and I used to leave it propped against my mirror every morning,” he says. “It dawned on me that there had to be better way, so the initial goal was finding a way of putting that display into a mirror.”
Anthony says feedback on the device was an important factor in the company’s decision to host an event.
“We were excited to see the interaction, and have some of our questions answered,” he says. “We especially wanted to know whether people would be receptive to the price.”
“Overall, it was a great event, particularly from a research and marketing standpoint,” he says. “So far, the Chromecast model is our most popular, as the cost is lowest and users can stream content directly from their phone.”
The current product limits the display to one corner of the mirror’s surface, but Anthony says future plans may include ways to manipulate it, making it larger or smaller.
“As time goes on, it will be interesting to see what additional feedback users have for us as to how to improve or further customize the product,” he says.
Along with Anthony, the company has three other part-owners, all from Spokane. Ken Warto works on product development and production, Quinton Baker manages the company’s sales, and Keith Tatham is in charge of intellectual property and additional business operations.
The company itself remains small, having yet to establish an office space, or even incorporate its name.
“For now we’re staying pretty flexible, seeking investors and working on fundraising options,” says Anthony. “We may eventually change the name to something different from the product. I’d say we’ve invested a good $3,500 into startup costs so far, including labor, patents, and all that,” he says.
The company is currently working to produce units for its first 15 preorders. Up until recently, it has only been doing small scale manufacturing, operating out of both Anthony’s apartment and Warto’s home to create each product. However, Anthony confirms that the company has just secured a manufacturing partnership with Tate Technology Inc., of Spokane.
“We’re still determining when we’ll make that leap to larger scale production,” says Anthony. “But we do have that relationship now, so we’ll be looking for their guidance and advice in the interim period.”
Anthony says he sees the company growing quickly as it increases its fundraising efforts, injecting capital to shore up its operations.
“We want to create a small inventory, but still be flexible enough to change and develop our product as time goes on,” he says. “Right now the product is in the engineering stage, but as we get going I can see us growing in the areas of sales and customer support.”
Both the fledgling startup and its product are named for vitreous humor, which is the clear gel that fills the space between the lens and the retina of the eyeball, Anthony says.
“I find it most interesting when interactions are ephemeral,” he says. “When you have this technology that can be integrated into everyday life, a display that you wouldn’t notice unless it’s in use.”