Christina Cyr and Linda Inagawa are on a mission to design tech products for women, and they’re starting with that essential bit of pocket technology: the mobile phone. Tired of products pandering to women, Cyr and Inagawa want to design in a “feminine forward” way.
“Frequently, in the tech industry, designs are made by men and they don’t take women’s needs into consideration,” Cyr said. “Particularly in the mobile industry, when they make (a mobile phone) they either paint it pink or make it just a little bit smaller and that’s about as far as consideration goes for women.”
Their first product is called the Cyrcle, a round phone that looks like a compact mirror or a compass. It’s only in the prototype phase, with a 3-D printed body and uses an open-source kit named RePhone Kit from Seeed. Cyrcle is designed to fit in pockets and purses. It also cuts down on notifications to limit the amount of time women spend digging around in their bags for their phone.
It fits with the name of their Bellevue-based company, dToor, which means “designing the opposite of a rectangle.” It’s been in the works since Cyr first got the idea in 2014. The phone debuted at the Mobile World Conference in February. The two women traveled to Barcelona, armed with prototypes, and set up shop in the 4 Years From Now (4YFN) pavilion, which showcases startups and cutting edge inventions.
Cyr and Inagawa are cofounders of dToor. Inagawa came on board as the COO in December while Cyr is the CEO, and creator of the company. The pair have worked together before. They’ve been friends for 20 years, meeting at Microsoft. They were strangers who shared the same first day of work at the Redmond campus, beginning a tight bond akin to family.
That all led them to Cyrcle. A product by women, for women. Making a splash in Barcelona gave “street cred” to the phone, Cyr said.
The two women were surprised to see such a positive reaction from visitors. The pair gained press coverage from Spanish TV and from online tech publication CNet.com. It was a whirlwind, something Inagawa reflected on during the flight home.
“So many things happened (in Barcelona) that kept reiterating that this is the right thing,” she said.
Cyrcle isn’t the first round phone. The Monohm Runcible made headlines in the pavilion in 2015. The Runcible is part smartphone, part pocket watch, and part compass. It runs at about $600. Cyrcle intends to be more affordable.
Cyr first got the idea for the phone in April 2014, but wasn’t sure she wanted to wade into the world of startup tech. However, it was an idea that wouldn’t leave her alone.
“There was not a day that passed that I didn’t stop thinking about it,” Cyr said.
Want to get your hands on the Cyrcle? There will be a limited run of 100 units in August. Those models will only be 2G and an early prototype, but a 4G model is on the way soon. It wasn’t the plan to ship out prototypes, but the concept has proved so popular, there’s a demand.
“People are dying just to get their hands on the prototype,” Cyr said.
For more on the company, visit its website dtoor.com.