The installation of smart glass products is increasing globally as owners and developers seek to integrate new technologies to improve the overall efficiency of the infrastructure. As one of the latest product trends to complement energy climate initiatives in commercial and residential spaces, smart glass offers features such as automatically adjusting window tint based on external lighting conditions.
Low-emission glass is not a new concept, but companies involved in glass production are improving existing smart technologies to provide building occupants with functional control. In addition, these companies are also recognized as providing high-quality smart glass solutions for upcoming development projects in emerging economies.
In 2021, SageGlass was selected by Bagmane Group as the largest smart glass installation in India, offering approximately 200,000 square feet of SageGlass Harmony electrochromic glass. The company’s India team will work with Glass Wall Systems to deploy and commission more than 12,000 panels at the Rio Business Park in Bangalore. It was pointed out that Google could be the space’s first tenant.Commercial sector applications represent a significant portion of global end users Smart Glass Industry.
Improved energy efficiency opens new ‘window’ to electrochromic active glass
According to a report by the U.S. Department of Energy, inefficient windows can cause 25 to 30 percent of the energy in a building to be wasted. Additionally, the California Energy Commission estimates that nearly 40 percent of a typical building’s cooling needs are due to solar heat gained through windows. In this regard, the demand for dynamic windows of smart glass, especially electrochromic glass, is gradually soaring. EC glass is considered to be more effective than traditional glass and automatic shading systems in reducing energy consumption and improving user comfort.
A laboratory test at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore showed that windows installed with EC glass have excellent stability, limiting infrared radiation by more than 65%. In another study, electrochromic glass was shown to be the best at reducing cooling energy consumption in the window area by approximately 32%. The study represents key information that developers can use for future renovations or new projects, especially in countries such as Singapore, which has a strong service sector base leading to the construction of high-rise modern buildings.
Manufacturers’ efforts to expand smart glass applications among ordinary consumers will also influence industry trends. For example, in 2020, Click Materials, a leader in electrochromic glass technology, partnered with Cardinal Glass Industries to bring its smart window solutions to 1 million North American homes. According to the company, Click has developed a proprietary technology that reduces the production cost of EC glass by 60%, enabling homeowners to easily use smart windows while limiting energy costs and consumption.
Smart glass deployment in transportation
The material is becoming ideal for temperature control and dynamic shading in the transportation sector. Smart glass with suspended particle device (SPD) enables clear views through skylights and windows while reducing sun rays that cause skin damage, glare and indoor aging.
Thanks to its ability to regulate heat, smart glass could allow automakers to shrink air-conditioning compressors by up to 40 percent, reducing weight and overall production costs. This in turn reduces fuel burn, prompting companies to adopt advanced smart glass solutions in vehicles. For example, Gauzy has a partnership with LG Display to enable smart, transparent and dynamic displays for different vehicles.
The adoption of smart glass products can also be observed in the railway industry. In June 2022, it was announced that the luxury G-train project would have a fully adjustable smart glass exterior. The G-train’s advanced glass can reportedly go from fully transparent to opaque at the touch of a button. When opaque, the interior of the train can be filled with different types of scenery, enhancing the mood and comfort of passengers.
Memphis International Airport, meanwhile, installed windows produced using smart glass in 2021 as part of an airport modernization program aimed at improving the passenger experience and increasing energy efficiency. Smart windows use artificial intelligence to optimize the amount of natural light and regulate heat and glare. The above examples do affirm the material’s existing uses, but more importantly, they demonstrate the enormous potential of smart glass technology in public spaces.
Smart glass technology makes leap in solar applications
The deployment of smart glass in buildings and transportation has increased over the years. More recently, however, the demand for power-generating glass has opened up new frontiers for the industry. In a recent breakthrough, NEXT Energy Technologies, together with Walters and Wolf and Bouygues Construction, demonstrated an energy-generating solar coating that converts window glass into solar panels. This model features 10 windows and powers the battery that drives the interactive display and charging port for electronic devices.
Likewise, a research team led by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research has unveiled a new technology for solar control windows based on thermochromic smart glass. Glass has the ability to change its infrared transmittance when exposed to incident solar radiation. The role of the proposed solar window concept is to block heat from the sun when outdoor temperatures are extremely high, while absorbing it in cooler weather.
As one of the most commonly used products in infrastructure projects, glass remains the focus of innovation. Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence can make glass materials suitable for critical technology and safety applications. From limiting the ingress of UV radiation, providing optimum energy efficiency to the comfort of car occupants, smart glass solutions are now used worldwide. Driven by central government energy initiatives, North America is expected to be recognized as one of the leading adopters of smart glass in residential and commercial buildings.