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Smart buildings 17/04/2018

Wintual: Virtual windows to open the blind premises to the world

Wintual, a young startup from the Provence area of France, creates virtual windows to improve the living conditions or work in windowless locations. Wintual will be present at the ENGIE Lab at Viva Technology from May 24th to 26th, 2018. Jean-Loup Barrere, its CEO, gave us an introduction to the company.

Wintual is a startup that was created at the end of 2016. We market the first virtual window: a device intended for windowless worksites to help the people who have to work in them full time. Practically speaking, it’s a video screen inserted into a window frame equipped with sensors that display live video shot outside. The screen adapts to the position of the person who is in front of it and otherwise acts like a "real" window: if you move to the left, you will see the landscape on the right.

We create windows in places where there are none to reconnect people with the outdoors, to help them keep their bearings with regards to time, see the weather, and reduce stress and the impression of confinement caused by the windowless work sites.

We pushed the concept a step further! At first we offered to connect the window to a camera located on the building, but we can also connect it to a remote webcam which allows the user to pick a place of their choosing, giving you the ability to see the old Port of Marseille from your basement in Paris, for example... and enjoy the nice weather;)

This virtual window has other applications, for example connecting teams who are working remotely on a shared project, as if the premises were next to each other, and allowing teams to see each other working and thereby improving communication and synergies.

We're also very interested in the medical world, whether it's waiting rooms for doctors, or hospitals that have a lot of windowless rooms. Also cruise ships, half of whose cabins have no windows. Our virtual windows can also be used to create moods in theme stores, spas, or simply serve as a TV screen or to display works of art.

All in all there are a lot of potential markets, but we decided to start with companies because the segment is both large and relatively easy to access. We are currently in the POC phase and banks are among our first customers. Many banking offices are located city centers or in older premises that have few linear meters in front, so the financial advisers often work windowless offices, with consequences in terms of quality of life at work and even an impact vis-à-vis their customers. Banks are looking for solutions to open up their back rooms and provide a more comfortable working environment for their employees.

We decided not to go into the retail market just yet for strategic reasons because it requires a structure and a financial base that we do not have yet. But in our roadmap we have planned to enter that market next year.

How did you come up with the idea of this virtual window?

The idea came from personal experience. For twenty years I lived in a house whose bathroom had a large window. I had to move, and in my new home, the bathroom has no windows. I felt real frustration because of the change. It gave me the idea to put a camera on the roof of the house and show the video in the bathroom, to reconnect it to the outside and see the weather in the morning when I get up.
After delving into the idea, I realized that many other people had the same problem. We’ve all spent a day in a windowless meeting room and few people appreciate that as an experience. So we decided to start a company, and my partner and I started the project a little more than two years ago.

And are you going to install a window at Vivatech and show us the outside?

Yes. Last year our product was still in the development phase, and we wanted to return this year with a real window so that visitors could really enjoy the user experience.
We were at the CES in Las Vegas last January where we were completely full in terms of attendance! Our product is very playful, people love to watch it and the interactions that happen when visitors want to play with it. It’s actually a very innovative product that didn’t exist until now, and that gets attention.

What do you expect to get from participating in Vivatech?

Thanks to the calls for projects launched by ENGIE we’ve picked up on the image of a company that is concerned with people’s well-being at work or in hospitals, which exactly corresponds to our target. So it makes a lot of sense for us to be on your stand!

We also hope to:

  • Increase our visibility and make ourselves better known by communicating as widely as possible and showing our product.
  • We are in the POC phase, and we launched a marketing campaign for the product at the beginning of the year, so now we’re seeking donations from customers.
  • We hope to raise funds at the end of the year and this is a good opportunity to meet investors.

And finally, for you the future will be...?

In the future, windowless rooms will be connected to the world thanks to virtual windows.

Read more on Wintual

Source: Christine Leroy

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