Steven Shulman, President of AWOL Vision, sat down with editor in chief Erinn Loucks to discuss AWOL, one of the companies that competed in the 2022 Projector Shootout.
Tell me about your company, AWOL.
AWOL is an American-based company that is located in Delray Beach, Florida. Our first foray into electronics was during COVID. You remember how people used to measure your temperature when you went into stores or hospitals? We developed a thermal imaging infrared camera that takes your picture by thermal images or heat. The product was working well in Europe and Asia as a facial recognition device that could let people into buildings by reading facial structures.
My business partner and I determined if we know what the heat of the person’s face is, why can’t we display that as it could determine if they have a temperature and replace the dreaded thermo guns.
The kiosks display was about the size of an iPad and when you looked into it, it would take your picture, display your temperature, and the administrator would get an message if someone’s temperature was elevated. We used the the best components, camera lens, Infrared sensor and developed software that was user friendly. It was wildly successful and we learned a lot about components, logistics and customer service.. We sold to all the armed forces, hospital networks, all the district courts and the Fortune 500 businesses that wanted their employees to come back to an environment where that felt Safe..
My business partner and I had a great team on the ground which could see what the next big opportunity was in the electronics market. We kept getting reports on how the Ultra Short Throw projector market was growing. So we put together a solid team of mechanical, industrial, software and hardware engineers as well as expert consultants. We had endless meeting on how to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the market.. A lot of great ideas came from these meetings but some advisors kept saying you need to lower the grade of the components to lower the bottom line. Use a less quality processing chip or plastic lens instead of high quality glass lens and that didn’t make sense to me because the only we were going to break into this category was to have the best Tri Color UST in the Market. During one of the final design meetings I said, we want to go AWOL, take a different route than other manufacturers. So that’s how we got the name. The UST also projects on a Wall, so another play with words.
We decided to use the best components we could fins. We use a Texas Instrument, highest quality true RGB laser engine, Lumen at add the highest in the category and a customized F 2.0 Ricoh glass lens to let all the techno guy shine through. The AWOL Vision software team is the best in the market with easy to use setup menus and interfaces and have already developed and released over the the air updates such as brighter HDR Levels, 3D, higher contrast and lower black levels with a few more updates in the road ahead.
Our potential customers, which are knowledgeable about this new category of Laser TV’s that sits inches from the wall, understood that if this all works the way your design is set up, it’s going to be one of the best pictures ever scene in a home cinema environment.
We went on IndieGoGo and raised over $1,000,000 in a short period of time, we got outstanding customer reviews and critics and reviewer were naming us the best UST on the planet. By listening to our devoted customer base we were able to make updates from the feedback they were giving us to even further the popularity of AWOL Vision.
It’s more difficult for our competitors to make adjustments as they have used less grade component, difficult for them to do OTA updates and they have a lot of red tape to go through. We have a strong customer service team based in Delray Beach, FL. Our digital marketing team is second to none in getting the brand out to the right demographic.
Do you have a favorite part of the projector or a highlight that stands out to you?
It’s tough to pick out my favorite part of the AWOL Vision projector, but I must say it is it’s brightness. As you saw today we were judged the brightest projector in the market but you need all your components to be top quality to handle the type o=f brightness and energy that runs through the veins of the AWOL Vision product. The mage not only expresses brightness, but clarity, vividness and over 1 billion colors.
What’s next for you guys?
The AWOL Vision Vanish is a new product that houses the projector in a closable drawer and also has a floor rising ALR screen that rises up when the projector turns on. We also are the only UST that can project 4K to fill up a 150” screen that we are now selling.
Is there anything else you think we should know?
It’s important to listen to what your customers. These are the people that actually use your product the most and have given us valuable feedback to improve every aspect of the AWOL Vision LTV 3500 and the less Lumen LTV 2500. I truly believe we have the smartest Techy Customers on the planet. Sometimes they have better advice for our clientele who are asking for problem solving than me or the crafty engineers who developed this beast.