A “smart technology” is built into just about every product today—from televisions to cars to home appliances. While these convenient features are becoming commonplace for many products, here are 5 emerging window technologies that seem more like they came from the Syfy channel than real life. While many of these features are still in the development stage or need fine-tuning, it’s exciting to see high-tech solutions for the new residential construction and home improvement industries.
Now You See Through, Now You Don’t Window that change from clear to opaque with the touch of a button is being developed for residential use to help reduce cooling costs during summer months and for privacy year-round. Electrochromic technology currently allows windows to tint on demand and have been used in airplane windows for several years. Present models take up to three minutes to transition and don’t get dark enough for widespread residential use. Intuition at Its Best Another company is working on a transitioning technology of its own. This one works without electricity and intuitively transitions from clear to dark with a glass temperature change.
A thermochromic filter applied inside a double pane window combined with a Low-E coating work together to provide energy efficiency year-round. Warm temperatures activate the filter tinting transition to block the heat from the sun, reduce glare and UV damage, and maximize cooling efficiency. Cooler temperatures don’t affect the filter so the window remains clear for enhanced solar gain. Power Windows Capturing solar energy is a familiar concept. We’ve seen photovoltaic cell panels on roofs and fields of arrays that collect sunlight and convert it to electricity. Of course, solar panels in place of windows would make for a very dark house.
Luckily, researchers at Michigan State University have found a solution with a transparent luminescent solar concentrator. Unlike past-colored prototypes, this new technology creates solar energy while keeping the window clear. Small organic molecules absorb ultraviolet and near-infrared wavelengths. A glowing infrared light is guided to thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells and converted to electricity without affecting window transparency. Glass that’s For the Birds This new innovation is probably something you’ve never spent much time thinking about but really makes sense when you do—bird-friendly windows. To save millions of birds from injury or death from flying into glass windows, a new, patterned coating is available that is visible to birds but not humans.
The coating has been tested and approved by the American Bird Conservancy and is currently available as laminated glass or insulated units combined with Low-E coatings for a bird-friendly, energy-efficient window. Easy Clean-up With busy schedules and the trend toward making housekeeping easier, manufacturers are producing everything from self-cleaning ovens to automatic shower scrubbers to autonomous robotic vacuum cleaners. It’s only natural that the labor-intensive process of washing windows is the next smart technology being offered. Robotic window cleaners have been introduced into the mainstream market as a time-saving option, especially for hard-to-reach areas. Using motor-powered suction, these automated machines clean from edge to edge, inside and out.