[REN #778] Housing Trends: Smart Windows Reflect the Future

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Picture of window with city view for Real Estate News for Investors Podcast Episode #778

The use of “smart windows” is about to blast off. These windows have wifi-connected glass that can do all sorts of things, like adjust from clear, for a beautiful view, to frosted, for privacy. They can even call police if a burglar breaks in. The companies making these windows are installing them on buildings around the world. Analysts say, the use of this smart glass is about to experience revolutionary growth over the next ten years.

The Wall Street Journal published a story that featured a smart window company called View, out of Milpitas, California. (1) It makes smart windows that connect to a smart phone app by wifi, and automatically adjust to the sun’s glare. If you have a larger space with a wall of windows, you can also create zones for different levels of tint. The company can also incorporate technology called “SmartProtect” into the windows which sends an alert to the security system or the authorities if someone breaks the glass.

Eliminating the Need for Blinds

Another company called Innovative Glass makes windows that are frosted for privacy until you turn them on and make them clear. Or they can automatically adjust to the brightness of the sun by darkening or lightening the tint. Another one of their glass products can be tinted on demand to eliminate the need for blinds or shades.

Dream Glass offers similar options along with glass that’s bullet proof. You can also customize the color of the tint and control your windows with an app, a manual on/off switch, remote control switches, sensors, timers, dimmers, and/or door locks.

Those are just a few examples of the companies making these products. The Wall Street Journal says, the View is one of the biggest with plans to disrupt the use of old-fashioned dumb glass. The paper says, View has already installed its brand of smart glass on hundreds of skyscrapers, hospitals, schools, stores, and homes. That includes both new buildings and retrofit projects. 

CEO Rao Mulpuri told the paper that we are “ripe for change.” He says, “Our phones are the most advanced things we deal with in our day-to-day lives, our cars are somewhat in between, and buildings are the dumbest.” He aims to change that for the windows, at least.

Investors Love Smart Glass

Investors are also very interested in this new smart technology. The Wall Street Journal says, the View has raised almost $2 billion. Another company, called Kinestral Technologies, out of Hayward, California has raised $229 million. SageGlass out of Minnesota has raised more than $38 million.

It’s just the start of this smart glass growth cycle so the industry needs a lot of investment dollars, from investors and property owners installing this kind of window. The article says, windows made by View cost about five times as much as your traditional window, and the installation is about 50% more.

It also points out some of the advantages which help offset the costs. In commercial applications, smart glass can increase the amount of usable interior space because employees can sit closer to windows without baking in the sun. They also reduce energy costs and eliminate the need for shades and blinds.

View is also working on additional smart glass features such as the projecting of video onto the glass. Mulpuri says that hacking isn’t much of a concern either, because “the window is not that interesting to hack.”

Smart Glass Market Study

One industry analysis is estimating, the use of smart glass will grow about 15% from 2018 to 2028 with about $15 billion in sales. As reported by Consulting Industry News, the Future Market Insights report says that demand will be strong for commercial smart glass, but it expects residential smart glass to gain momentum also.

The report expects demand to be the strongest in North America, followed by Europe, due to the high number of luxury homes and commercial buildings in those two regions. China and Latin America would follow.

Another report by ResearchAndMarkets.com expects the global smart window market to grow 17% between this year and 2024. It includes a comparative analysis on 16 top smart glass companies. (2)

Driverless Cars Will Use Smart Glass

Driverless cars are also in line for smart windows. Mashable reported on a company called Research Frontiers which makes glass for car windows and sunroofs. Passengers can change the tint with the touch of a button for privacy or to stop the sun’s glare and heat. 

CEO Joe Harary believes this high-tech glass will be crucial for self-driving cars because passengers will be doing things other than watching the road, like playing video games or reading. He says, the windows will also need to be dynamic so passengers can check on a traffic jam in one moment and resume what they were doing the next. He told Mashable, “It’s not science fiction.” He says, this smart glass is already installed in some vehicles.

This technology might be something to check into if you’re in the market for a window retrofit, or are building something new.

Links:

(1) Wall Street Journal Article

(2) Smart Window Market Growth

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