I was inspired to create the mirror to solve a problem that had always bothered me. I was tired of carrying around my laptop and all my other electronics. It seemed to me that the only advantage my laptop had over my phone was its bigger screen and keys. I could bridge the gap by buying a tablet but any tablet that offered the same performance as my phone phone would be extremely expensive.
The solution seemed obvious couldn't I make a cheap tablet like device that I could dock my phone into ? It wouldn't need its own processor or any other expensive components since the phone would be doing all the heavy lifting. All it would need would be to project my phones screen onto its own screen and send touch screen data back into phone. I researched the market for a similar device but I couldn't find anything. The closest product was the ASUS padfone. However they had taken a terrible approach solving this problem. The padfone tablet had a gigantic processor and it worked by docking with the phone,downloading all its data and running the phones OS on a virtual machine. This idea not only killed the battery of both devices but was completely unnecessary.
I researched the standards for phone connectivity with other devices and I quickly found of the MHL standard of chipsets. The majority of these chips were manufactured through Silicon Image Systems or SLC.At this time the most popular standard for connection was the MHL 2.0. However several of the newer phones being released such as the Galaxy S4 or the Sony Xperia were using a newer set of chip-sets built on the MHL 3.0 standard. This standard had been developed to allow phones to send 4k video output to TVs.
Streaming 4k video is a very data intensive process. While the phone is streaming data out it also needs to communicate with the smart tv. The newer MHL 3.0 standard allowed a phone to send and receive data while also being charged simultaneously from the same cable.However we could co-opt this format and instead of sending 4k data to a tv screen once could just send the data into the tablet screen and then send touch screen data through an image controller back into the phone.
While I had some ideas on how to proceed, I didn't have the engineering skills to accomplish this. However I did know an amazing engineer. My brother Gurkay Sebat. Luckily for me Gurkay is an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science dual major minor in Mathematics. I worked with him to draw the diagrams for my first prototype and secure a patent pending from the USPTO. However during the development of the prototype we realized that we needed an MHL 3.0 receiver and transmitter. The only company that made one for resale was Silicon Image but they would not sell us the programmable version.Only larger companies could access this chip set since larger companies could be litigated in case the standard was leaked to manufacturers in China. We did create a small prototype that had audio and image out on a touch screen but could not transmit data back. We wanted to use this prototype to partner with a larger company.
Along with my brother I entered in different entrepreneurship competitions all over Long Island.We were finalists at the Hofstra University Entrepreneurship Competition but lost the first place prize($100,000) to a successful social media app.Afterwards we were invited to present at Launchpad LI's Huntington branch and made some great contacts in Long Island's engineering field. However despite our successes we could not find a company locally that had the right qualifications to purchase the MHL 3.0 receiver image that we needed. I eventually submitted my idea to Quirky where it quickly rose through the ranks. However during the Quirky run we were contacted by an investor.
A similar device had been in development in China around the time we had begun working on ours. This company had created a series of promotional videos and created an a kickstarter page to help raise money for their MHL 3.0 IP core. However the company was quickly sued for patent infringement by ASUS. One of their backers had seen my page on Quirky.After hearing this story, I began to worry about patent litigation. I was also struck by another case of bad luck, Quirky shut down its older format and transferred to a newer format that no longer supported more intricate products. Even though I did not feel that my product infringed on any patent I felt that it was a deal beaker for any corporate sponsors that I might acquire and I stopped work on my prototype
The Technical Schematics Included in My Patent Application
Prototype With 3D Printed Case
We Used An Iphone Since We Did Not Have The MHL Receiver. Lightning to MHL Conversion
Closeup Of Internals Battery was scrounged from older Galaxy
Final Production Version Sketch For Quirky
Showing the Quick Phone Release Dock
Final Product Sketch Demonstrator