A group of Black University of Rhode Island graduates is blending the worlds of augmented reality and fashion with its virtual mirror that lets you try on clothes and makeup before buying online.
They call their creation the “Muse Mirror,” which uses voice, touch and movement technology.
“The mirror can be your virtual closet,” Toye Onikoyi told Atlanta Black Star.
Onikoyi is a 2016 URI graduate in electrical engineering. He is also the founder and CEO of the Muse Mirror. He and fellow engineering and business graduates Etebom Samuel, Kelechi Agwunobi and Larry Adigun formed Muse Interactive.
The virtual mirror is the byproduct of Onikoyi’s one-off anniversary idea for his girlfriend, who loved the creation.
“Let me make her something she uses every day, which is a mirror, and let me put some things on her mirror, like her calendar, events and a greeting telling her, ‘Hey you look beautiful,’ ” Onikoyi told WBZ.
The Muse Mirror uses augmented reality technology and advanced camera technology. Similar technology is heavily used on social media apps, including Instagram’s popular “face filters,” which artificially superimpose objects like dog ears or sunglasses onto people’s faces.
The Muse Mirror also uses machine learning to observe the hair and skin of its users for future product recommendations. The mirror allows users to virtually try on products featured in specific five-to-20-minute skin-care tutorials, RI Monthly described.
In Spring 2022, Onikoyi and his team set up the Muse Mirror inside the Providence Place Mall in Providence, Rhode Island.
Many patrons walked by the display trying out its features in amazement. Onikoyi says since the mirror hit the market in March 2022, the reception has been great.
“We get people who have never seen a product like this before but instantly can start using it because of its ease-of-use design,” Onikoyi said.
“You can try on lipstick in the mirror, then purchase it straight from the mirror. We’re looking to do the whole experience of shopping with the mirror and leaning into fashion,” Onikoyi said.
“I see it as a bridge between retail and e-commerce,” he added.
The 33-pound mirror is marketed as “the first digital makeup mirror to incorporate live and on-demand personal makeup artists.” Users can try on 50 shades of cosmetic products that are tailored to their recommendations based on age, skin type, skin tone and personal preferences.
“We look to use the mirror as the one-stop shop when it comes to cosmetic, and skin-care products,” Onikoyi told Atlanta Black Star.
Onikoyi describes the mirror as a big tablet because it has a variety of features commonly found on smart devices. It has integrated speakers and a camera that takes pictures and videos. The mirror is also capable of downloading apps such as Netflix and TikTok.
“We want to help with multitasking, time management and health care in the way people take care of themselves physically and mentally,” Onikoyi said.
The Muse Mirror was the winner of the 2021 Rhode Island Commerce Calamari Tank pitch competition.
“Think about the last time you used a mirror; it was probably an hour ago. The mirror is a daily product in your house that hasn’t been fully integrated into the smart home lifestyle,” the Muse Interactive team said during their pitch.
Onikoyi’s team pitched their virtual mirror concept to a host of manufacturers and potential investors to get their entrepreneurial venture off the ground. After winning the competition, the group received business mentorship and coaching from RIHub. RIHub is a network of innovators, investors, students and citizens, all focused on building the Ocean State’s economy with new ideas.
“We’ve been using their mentoring service since last summer and that really pushed us from an idea project to right now,” Onikoyi said.
Muse Mirror users pay a $91 monthly subscription. The subscription-based market is lucrative as Sensor Tower reported the top 100 non-game subscription-based apps saw consumers spend $18.3 billion in 2021, up from $13 billion in 2020.
The e-commerce business has been on a steady increase since 2013, according to Census data. In November 2022, the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce said U.S. retail e-commerce sales were $256.9 billion when adjusted for seasonal variation.
“I see the Muse Mirror as the mirror that everyone has in their home,” Onikoyi said.
Women in their 20s and 30s are the predominant demographic using the mirror out of interest “in new looks and better understanding their skin,” Onikoyi said.
While the founder declined to disclose the Muse Mirror’s sales performance, he says the Black-owned company is looking to grow by developing an app that will allow users to have easy access to the content Muse Interactive is creating and is looking to sell the mirror to beauty spas, makeup stores and hotels.