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Yes, There’s a TV in Your Mirror

Electric Mirror raises the bar in luxury baths.

Monday, December 21, 2009
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Electric Mirror
Electric Mirror
Lighted Mirrors for Hospitality

The stakes for bringing luxury to the hotel bathroom have risen.

The people behind The Betsy Hotel in Miami's South Beach, which reopened in April after a two-year restoration period, knew this. That's why in addition to the swaths of marble and top-of-the-line linens, they worked with Electric Mirror to install LCD televisions in every bathroom mirror.

"Having the TV seamlessly integrated in the bathrooms was valuable to our guests, who, after all, spend a significant amount of guest room time in the bathrooms," said owner Jonathan Plutzik. "It was viewed as an amenity which was appropriate given the quality of The Betsy. Finally, from a design point of view it was consistent with the simplicity of presentation we were seeking overall at the property."

Robert Todak, general manager, said the TVs elevate the morning routine of shaving or applying makeup to a full sensory experience.

"What was envisioned was a combination of state-of-the-art technology that blended seamlessly with the architecture and grace of yesteryear," he said. "It's a beautiful blend of something that is so dynamically modern with a property that is so distinctly historic and timeless."

Jim Mischel, Electric Mirror's president and chief designer, estimated that 98 percent of the company's business is in the hospitality industry. Fans of its mirror TVs and backlit mirrors include the W Dallas, the Four Seasons St. Louis and the Westin Atlanta Airport.

"There's general surprise at how a mirror TV can change the status of a hotel in the guest's mind," he said.

The TVs are offered in various sizes, from 10 inches up to 19 inches. Mischel said the 15-inches are the most popular because people can see the images well without having them crowd the actual mirror. Because the TVs are so thin -- less than an inch wide -- there is no need to create a recess behind the TV. They are mounted on the wall like any framed mirror.

Speakers are mounted on the back side of the mirror, although Mischel said the maximum high-end experience would involve dropping a Bose speaker system into the ceiling.

The Everett, WA-based company grew out of Mischel's family business that built mirror defoggers. The innovation never stopped, and Electric Mirror now sees itself not just as a manufacturer but as a technology development company. Mischel called Electric Mirror the go-to company for unique and challenging projects.

"I worked with my family to create a company where we like to take risks with clients and do things no one has done before," he said. "TVs that are hanging from the ceilings combined with mirrors and lights -- very strange things. What's great about having our own integrated manufacturing facility, it allows us to take people's ideas and design, engineer and press it. We try to do a lot of prototyping and work through those difficult engineering issues. It keeps us very much alive here and on our toes."

One of the company's most recent innovations is the IM Series Hospitality TV, offered in high definition. The television represents a new way to distribute content throughout a hotel, for instance, streaming messages across the bottom of the screen that advertise the spa or F&B outlets. Messages can be customized for certain groups within the hotel, which could benefit a hotel's meetings business.

"What's unique about these features is we're creating a new revenue opportunity for the hotel in the bathroom," he said. "People seem to be much more open to having certain messages come across. The bedroom TV is more of a different experience. In the bathroom, you're doing things while the TV is going on. You're open to more of this content being delivered."

Electric Mirror can also include docks for guests to plug in iPods and other music players so guests can take advantage of the high-quality speaker system.

"There's a huge trend toward technology-related devices," Mischel said. "We have a huge new generation of travelers. They work for high-tech companies. They are definitely expecting technology in the hotel to match what they experience in their own world."

Electric Mirror's success has created opportunities for expansion. It has sales and technical support offices in Europe, the Middle East, China, Latin America and India. The company still does its manufacturing in the United States.

"We're making a pretty strong move," he said of the expansion. "We've been pretty aggressive in pushing our products around the world."

Back at The Betsy, Todak said guests have easily adapted to the new technology.

"This is probably one of the features in our design that is very sophisticated, very subdued, very relaxing," he said. "This is one of the wow-factors that our guests appreciate."
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