11/05/2017 – News / IDTechEx / Smart Glass / Energy / Technology
A smarter breed of smart glass to drive $6.5bn market by 2028
The new IDTechEx report ‘Electrically Active Smart Glass and Windows 2018-2028’ observes that electrically active see-through glass is an idea whose time has come – as such, the research firm expects this smarter breed of smart glass to drive growth in the segment to US$6.5 billion over the next decade. Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman of IDTechEx, reports.
Electrically active see-through glass powers the megatrend of structural electronics instead of the tired old components-in-a-box designs, and replaces those drapes and ugly solar panels that are an afterthought. It saves space, weight and cost while improving reliability, ruggedness and the life of electrics, electronics and active optics. It makes buildings far more efficient and pleasant to use.
Supporting the drive towards energy-independent vehicles
Indeed, such smart glass will facilitate the megatrend towards energy-independent vehicles, by creating electricity from the ever larger windows of land, water and air vehicles and providing privacy, energy conservation and sun protection on demand.
Electrically active windows started with embedded demister, de-icer and antenna patterns, and progressed to the darken-on-demand windows popular in airliners, superyachts, premium cars and many buildings. Next, expect to see electricity-creating photovoltaic windows increasingly in buildings; they are keenly awaited for mainstream vehicles too.
Altering the very concept of a building
Building skins with tunable properties has been a dream for architects for decades. Such skins will alter the very concept of a building into that of an entity operating in harmony with nature rather as, in most cases, in stark opposition to nature and requiring energy-guzzling measures such as air conditioning and artificial lighting to create a livable indoor environment. EC foil technology, in particular, opens new roads towards membrane architecture and may make it possible to create climate shells and zones between indoors and outdoors. The membranes can be based on ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) with well-documented long-term durability as a building material.
Electrochromic foil technology, in particular, opens new roads towards membrane architecture and may make it possible to create climate shells and zones between indoors and outdoors. The membranes can be based on ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), with well-documented long-term durability as a building material.
The main characteristics of active smart glass are that it involves an electrical interface and is controlled manually by the user or automatically with a sensor, remote control device or integrated building control system.
Window to another world
The market is comprised of various technologies, including transparent photovoltaics producing electricity; electronic shades using electrically activated liquid crystals, suspended particle devices and electrochromics; and also structural OLED lighting. Other solutions include the thermoelectric creation of electricity to power sensors in translucent glass, alongside transparent OLED displays. All such areas are covered in the new report, which gives 10-year forecasts for the various technologies comprising a market of around US$6.5 billion in 2028, and a lot more thereafter. It explains why this is mainly concerned with new buildings and new vehicles, with some opportunity for premium pricing, and different potential for different functions.
And while smart glass is commercialised in various ways – particularly in architectural, automotive, aerospace and marine applications – the new report ‘Electrically Active Smart Glass and Windows 2018-2028’ explains why the greatest adoption today is for shading. These versions are mainly electrochromic at present, although the largest sector in 2028 will be photovoltaics, the report states.
The new IDTechEx report primarily concerns the commercialisation and future of electrically active inorganic glass we call smart glass. That includes putting it in context with passive glass optically responding to heat and light and transparent electrically active polymers in windows and combinations as well.