Since the double-glazing boom in the 80’s, windows have languished unaltered while every other household implement has been revolutionised. We’ve got smart-phones, smart-cars, smart-TV’s, smart(er)-computers and our radios now double as personal assistants called Alexa and Google.
Yet when it comes to windows you got two choices: tinted or no. Until soon.
The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport has fit one of its departure gates with a new type of glass. Although it can’t filter out loudmouths with Bintang singlets, it can automatically change its opaqueness, letting in different amounts of sunlight depending on the conditions and time of day. The initial attraction was to keep travellers from overheating and to save money on air-conditioning, however the experiment also saw a significant increase in profit for the restaurant next to the “intelligent” glass.
As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, “It turns out that a cooler, darker bar encourages an extra round or two. Alcohol sales soared 80 per cent in October, compared with the same period in 2016, the installation of electrochromatic glass being the only difference. Alcohol contributed 17 per cent of the restaurant’s total revenue in October 2017, compared with 9 per cent the previous month and 8 per cent in October 2016.”
The glass was also effective in making the departure gate more comfortable, and is expected to be a welcome addition to forward-thinking airports over the coming years. At the moment there are two main companies in this industry: View Inc, a 10-year-old Silicon Valley company that targets “commercial offices, hospitals, higher education facilities, airports and other places where customer satisfaction is a priority”, and French materials giant Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA, which has a similar electrochromatic product; SageGlass.
Smart glass walls work like magic ✨ pic.twitter.com/2SCYYyZ00z
— INSIDER (@thisisinsider) April 12, 2018
How does it work? Well, View’s “smart” windows typically consist of three panes, all of which have “Internet protocol and electrical power connections to allow for minute adjustments and programming” (SMH), enabling them to let more light in when you need it, and less when you don’t want it. And it can be manually controlled from a mobile or computer as well.
Patrick M. Byrne, CEO & Founder of Overstock, rates the “smart-glass” he purchased highly, saying, “If you make people 1 or 2% more efficient because they’re working in an environment like this, it pays back overnight.”
Although select keyboard-warriors have dismissed the invention as a fad, most people seem to be keen for the glass to become more commercially viable.
“They have developed at massive expense a product that has exactly the same effect as Venetian blinds in a room that faces west. The mind boggles.”
The glass has also been purchased by schools, Delta Airlines, universities and sports stadiums, where presumably it works better than Venetian blinds.