Like so many great innovations, MirrorCache was born out of a deceptively simple idea: a smart-locking medicine cabinet. It’s the type of product you’d imagine would exist. So when Scott Ware—a technology specialist who was previously involved in hiring designers and engineers for products such as Xbox and the Microsoft Surface—realized it didn’t, he made it his mission to change that and founded MirrorCache.
That was roughly five years ago, and that seed has since sprouted into the SmartAccessMirror (SAM), which is, in itself, a malleable vessel for heretofore untapped levels of comfort and accessibility. Designed specifically for the travel and hospitality industries, SAM essentially functions as a personal concierge that manifests in the form of a touchscreen mirror. A built-in operating system, FingertipsOS, allows it to sync with a guest’s mobile device, while the addition of Alexa allows the mirror to respond to a guest’s voice commands.
The integrated DaisyMirror feature makes it easier to order room service, explore activities in the area, or simply make the most of a hotel’s amenities. It can also, based on one’s interests, create a personalized itinerary. And staying true to the product’s initial inspiration, SAM also functions as a smart-locking safe. This feature, called the DonBox, is waterproof, fireproof, and tamper-proof. It’s also equipped with a state of the art security interface, Ocual, and Blockchain personal identity security storage.
Ware explains that those three components—FingertipsOS, the DaisyMirror, and the DonBox—comprise SAM, but they can also be used individually. “I could use any one of those systems on its own for other purposes,” says the CEO, noting that he’s also been in discussion with police forces about them incorporating the DonBox as an alternative gun safe for police officers. “We can take the company and our mission in different directions depending on what we find uses for with the technology.”
Ware says the core focus of his product is to help create efficiencies not just for travelers, but also for hotels. “Whether it’s concierge services or room services, there’s always been a lot of room for human error,” he says. “We’re helping solve that through an automated system that can provide more detailed reporting and better communication with the hotel systems.” This, he adds, can help lower operational costs for hotels as it improves the customer experience.
Demonstrating the flexibility of the core product, MirrorCache—which currently has a US, Canada, and European issued patent—has also developed a number of supplementary services for SAM. Among them are TravelSync, which can link itineraries and flights to the OS; CleanSlate, a service that handles every facet of the checking out process from payments to incident reports to ensuring everything’s been removed from the safe; Celsius, an energy interface that allows the user control of the blinds, thermostat, and other sources of comfort; and there’s even a built-in, light-up makeup mirror called PangHalo.
That may sound overwhelming for someone still getting a grasp on the latest innovations in technology, but Ware says MirrorCache is in touch with “the human element” of its product.
“I have a technology background, but I also know that plenty of people are resistant to new technology and products like this,” he says. “The first barrier to overcome is trust.”
The company’s chief experience officer has compiled a great deal of research on how people interact with the product. What do they respond to? What feels unnatural? Ware says he wants users to be “delighted” by the product, both in its approachability and in the intuitive, eye-catching nature of its design.
“We really want to understand just how a user will be interacting with the product,” he says. “What are the different scenarios they’ll be facing? Do they feel safe using it? But there’s also the look of it—the physical touch and textures. There’s the cool factor, but we also want to hit the gut factor. It all boils down to security and experience, and if we mess up on those two pillars, then we’ve broken our promise.”
As Ware and his team work to refine SAM, they’re also gearing up to test the product in the field. There are a number of prominent hotel brands—Hyatt and Marriott among them—that will help pilot the product, which he’s hoping to have assembled locally in MirrorCache’s native state of Washington.
At that point, the MirrorCache team will inevitably expand, but Ware’s already surrounded by an impressive lineup of technology professionals, a byproduct of his background in tech recruiting. He mentions how one product manager who managed various aspects of the product development process helped create the voice-controlled personal assistant Siri as well as helped bring the T-Mobile Sidekick to market. The company’s chief experience officer has helped build more than two hundred products for Microsoft and other companies, and multiple team members have been through an IPO with previous employers.
Ware has also partnered with the engineering consultants at Nytec, who are assisting with the industrial design and mechanical engineering. There’s also RSA, the security solutions experts who are helping MirrorCache with information security and biometric authentication. Ware also notes IBM Watson as a key partner is helping refine SAM’s use of AI.
“A lot of hotels are using IBM Watson right now, so it really melds perfectly with what we’re doing,” he says.
Ware is only beginning to tap into SAM’s full potential, noting that, while the initial rollout is tailored to the hospitality industry, the possibilities are endless. In addition to hotels, the company will be testing out the product on cruise ships, yachts, and Airbnb units, where SAM can function as a digital concierge in the same manner as it would in a hotel. The company is also making a version for consumer home use that works with existing home security systems, such as ADT, for monitoring valuables and property in new and innovative ways.
For Ware, though, SAM is more than just a product. He sees its mission as aligning with his own personal mantra: “Do more for others than they can do for themselves.”
“We created a smart safe,” Ware says. “It can keep your valuables safe, but we’ve designed it so it can also enhance your travel experience, introduce you to new things, and make life easier. That’s the mission right there.”