Industry analysts believe that E-glass or Smart Glass products are poised to grow significantly in the next three years, primarily in two sectors: transportation and aerospace usage. If you thought that transition glass is just for eyeglasses and car windshields, think again.
Interest in energy efficiency is certainly propelling much of the interest in Smart Glass. While it’s true that the construction industry is the third sector where demand is greatest, it’s in the transportation and aerospace industries where interest is a bit unexpected. Since Smart Glass costs twice as much to install as many lower cost alternatives, it is surprising that more companies are recognizing that this product is considerably more energy efficient and the additional cost is a worthy investment. In the long run, the initial investment is offset by energy savings in a relatively short time period.
The “secret” behind Smart Glass is the thin film that is laid between two layers of glass. This film changes color when a very small amount of electricity is applied to it. This process is known as electrochromism. The concept may sound simple but the way that this product can be utilized is quite amazing.
Smart Glass windows have programmable external controls so they can be adapted as needed or they can be set to automatic timing as the day progresses to night. Internal GPS positioning predicts the sun’s angles and intensity throughout the day helping to reduce heat transmission from outside to in and the transition in color of this glass is slow so as not to be noticeable. Visibility is not compromised and with no glare, it can be improved in certain situations.
Take a look at Mercedes new SLK model. This car is fully equipped with Smart Glass technology. The new Honda Jet also utilizes e-glass as do many other commercial aircrafts. Increasingly, cockpit heat and glare are going to be a thing of the past and those annoying pull down shades will be replaced with Smart Glass that will be individually adjusted by the passenger. E-glass is also being installed on several floors of the Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago at this time.
Vision Systems just premiered a very functional and flexible multi-zone management, SPD-Smart Glass system at a European trade show for use in railway cars. This company realized that mass transit companies were very interested in energy efficiency as well as passenger comfort. This system is designed so that each section of window can be independently adjusted to regulate light and temperature transmission. This glass can “harvest” daylight which lessens the need for artificial lighting. Not only will these benefits be a gift to the individual traveler but to the entire rail passenger compliment as well.
Upon closer examination, it is easy to see why the future appears so bright for Smart Glass. The process to create smart glass now is time consuming and requires precise measurements; factors which weigh heavily on the cost of its production. New developments in the manufacturing process of this glass will certainly lower retail costs and expand its innovative use into a myriad of settings.