Calgary company’s high-tech, interactive mirrors set to appear in Tommy Hilfiger stores
The co-founders of Calgary-based Nobal Technologies have had little time to reflect on their successes as they continue to develop interactive digital mirrors that will soon be installed in retail outlets and could potentially find their way into your home in the near future.
“We believe that in the next 20 years, if you go up to a mirror and you touch it and it doesn’t come to life and give you a digital experience in the real world, then that’s going to be really weird,” said Thomas Battle, cofounder and COO of Nobal. “What we’re doing with iMirror is we’re getting in early in this massive space that didn’t exist five years ago and starting to create these really immersive digital experiences in places like retail and hospitality, these kinds of older industries, that are looking to reinvent and reimagine themselves because the way that their customers interact with them is fundamentally changing.”
Following a successful two-year pilot with PVH Tommy Hilfiger, Battle says iMirrors will soon be deployed across all of the clothing retailer’s fleets worldwide as well as its portfolio companies including Calvin Klein. In the last six months, Nobal Technologies has also closed deals with two undisclosed major retailers and iMirrors will be placed in their stores throughout the United States and Europe.
“We believe that when someone goes into a store, into a mall, in the future, they’re not going to be going there to buy a product,” explained Battle. “They’re going to be going there in order to have an experience. By going through that experience, they’re going to end up buying a product.”
“By bringing the mirrors, which are omnipresent in retail stores and hotels and malls, to life, we don’t put these ugly displays into these areas.”
The mirrors range in size from 140 cm (55 inches) to large standing kiosks and will allow customers an opportunity to efficiently browse products available in-store or online using touch or voice commands.
In addition to its retail endeavours, Battle and fellow cofounder Pieter Boekhoff have their sights set on bringing iMirrors into the entrances, closets and even the washrooms of homes.
“If you can be brushing your teeth while checking the news or watching sports highlights and then doing your hair or doing a makeup tutorial while you’re getting ready in the morning and seeing a traffic alert, that’s all way more efficient (in a mirror) than having your phone and picking it up, looking at it,” said Boekhoff.
Battle adds that an iMirror in a front entrance home could serve as a hub for retrieving messages and controlling all smart devices and a mirror in a closet could help suggest outfits and guide clothing purchases.
While some may view the introduction of smart mirrors into private areas as intrusive, the cofounders of Nobal Technologies say it’s an inevitability but they will assist lawmakers with the development of policies that will ensure personal data is protected.
“As (smart devices) become more and more ubiquitous throughout our lives, there are going to have to be some very difficult conversations that we have with ourselves and with the companies around 'How do we store this information?' and 'What is our right to privacy?',” said Battle. “We’re going to have to put in place regulations and we’re happy to help explore that new frontier with these other major companies.”
With files from CTV's Stephanie Wiebe