Smart windows are made out of a special high-tech glass that can quickly change from clear to tinted or that may block heat, light or glare. Smart glass is also called switchable glass or glass.
Eventually glass will become really smart, working as a computer display with the touch of a button. But that will not occur for 10 years or so. For now the next big thing is smart glass which replaces shades, drapes and blinds. Residential smart glass is forecast to cost about twice as much as traditional glass, but it can cut heating and cooling costs, and that means that you may theoretically recoup the additional expense.
Research on smart glass gets the promise of new technology clear. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, as an instance, has been working with the Institute for the Science of Materials in Spain to embed a particular formulation with tin oxide nanocrystals into new smart glass. It’s complicated stuff, however, the bottom line of the study is that smart glass may one day be expensive — possibly as low as $100 per square foot — since the glass can be made at relatively lower temperatures.
The Benefits of Smart Glass
The outcome is a glass than may block light and heat independently of each other — for instance, it may block the heat but allow sunshine in.
Turn a dial to apply a little bit of power to the glass, and it’ll absorb infrared light, significantly reducing the heat from sunlight coming through the glass. Turn another dial, along with the glass will go dark. Both light and heat can be adjusted to your taste, each turned all the way down or up.
Scientists have formed a California startup, known as Heliotrope, to further develop and market the technology.
Among the largest manufacturers of glass is a firm named SageGlass, which makes electronically tintable glass, used largely in commercial buildings so far. The company asserts its smart glass enables architects to use fewer sun-control apparatus, which ultimately raises the total amount of glass a construction can have.
SageGlass’ product functions using a ceramic coating which darkens when really low-voltage electricity is used. When the coating darkens, both heat and light are significantly reduced. The glass is typically used for windows, skylights and curtain walls.
Another smart-glass company to see is View, and it is a startup backed by glass giant Corning. Along with having the ability to change automatically dependent on the light coming through the window, View’s Dynamic Glass product can also be controllable from a wall switch or a smart-phone program.
There’s no wonder that smart-glass technology may bring down the prices of heating and cooling, and is enhancing the options for controlling heat and light not with blinds, shades and drapes but with changes in the glass itself.
The future of home windows looks really bright. Or dark. It’s up to you.
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