Story of an “Attentive Mirror” Recognized by the World’s Largest Airline CompaniesKomy Co., Ltd.
KOMY’s FF Mirror
- Mirrors manufactured by a small company based in Kawaguchi City of Japan have been recognized by global airline companies and are installed on Boeing and Airbus aircrafts. This article will share the story behind the birth of this mirror.
Inspiration from unexpected application by the customers
Komy Co., Ltd. was founded in 1967 and initially ran a billboard business. Later, they started creating rotating devices for rotating billboards. In 1977, they exhibited a rotating mirror, which had a compact motor built into two sheets of convex mirrors attached together, at a trade show, and one store ordered 30 sets of the mirror at once. A while after delivering the product, President Sakae Komiyama wondered what the company was using the mirrors for and visited the store, where he got an unexpected answer. He was told that the mirrors were very helpful in preventing shoplifting. It was explained to him that the mirror can be used to monitor shoplifters behaving suspiciously in blind spots of the sales floor from a distance.
The mirror (Rotating Mirrax) gained popularity and became a major hit as a security mirror. Komy took this opportunity to withdraw from the billboard business and switched to a mirror manufacture. The company also received customer feedback that the mirror can be effective not only for security reasons but also for improving their service. "The mirror helps us provide detailed service to customers, because we can closely follow the activities of customers in the store," said one of its users. Komy was once again surprised by the unexpected ways their customers were using the mirror. Therefore, they decided to place foremost importance on listening to user voices as a manufacturer of "attentive mirrors," and based on the feedbacks they conducted further research and development of new products.
FF Mirror is used in a wide variety of industries
In 1988, Komy successfully developed the Fantastic Flat Mirror or “FF Mirror”, which is a mirror made from resin with a wide field of view just like a convex mirror while retaining a flat shape. The FF Mirror is lightweight but hard to break, and it can be attached easily with double-sided tape.
FF Mirror is being used by a wide range of users as an attentive mirror that can be used for diverse purposes including security and safety measures. It is now one of Komy's core products, and Komy has expanded the product lineup, customizing them for various applications.
If you look carefully, you could find FF Mirrors in all kinds of places in daily life. For example, the FF Mirror is being used for collision prevention at public facilities, schools, hospitals, offices, train stations, elevators, and parking lots, and they are also installed at ATMs of banks and convenience stores to prevent sneak peeking and theft of PIN numbers.
The FF mirror is also used for stowage bin assistance on aircrafts. More than 300,000 FF Mirrors have been shipped in total by winning the trust of aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus. Over 100 airline companies around the world are using the FF Mirror for purposes such as prevention of forgotten items by passengers and security checks by flight attendants. Flight attendants have given Komy highly positive feedback with one flight attendant commenting, "It significantly reduced the time required for checking stowage bins after passengers disembark the plane."
The importance of listening to user voices
Komy currently has almost no competitors in this market, but President Komiyama states that this is exactly why they“must strengthen the company brand”. He says that there are still many challenges that need to be addressed, such as maintaining the ability to stably supply products now into the future, and striving to enhance their base technological capabilities.
But, of course, importance will be placed on the voices of users using the FF Mirror in actual situations. Komy will follow up on customers purchasing their product as much as possible and will interview users on how their products are being applied. Although Komy hardly receives any complaints about their products, if they come across any unexpected cases, they communicate it back to the development and production departments immediately to implement countermeasures and improvements. Komy's strength is the vast know-how they have accumulated through these efforts, and even if new companies were to enter the market, it would be no easy deal to catch up with Komy.
Komy's story of steady growth while getting inspiration from users on how to create new value will continue.
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