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For starters, when you put the word ‘smart’ in front of anything nowadays, you can expect it is certainly the way of the future.  Just like smartphones and smart TVs, smart windows have capabilities far greater than the existing type, it just keeps getting better and smarter.  It’s functionality is pretty much effortless and it is designed to predict human preferences with the slightest touch of temperature.

What is a Smart Window?

Smart windows is sometimes called dynamic glass or switchable glass. The technology has been around for almost 20 years and you may be familiar with them in the form of transitional lenses for eyeglasses. However, on a larger scale smart window replacements are made of glass that generally changes from translucent to transparent.  The glass on smart windows can be electronically tuned to selectively block heat, light or glare by quickly changing from clear to tinted.

There are several types of smart window technologies that are currently being developed and tested such as,  electrochromic, photochromic, thermochromic, polymer dispersed liquid crystal, and more.  To keep things simple, we’ll stick with considering only the way smart window replacements function compared to traditional window types.  For now, smart windows are activated with an electronic switch, but it won’t be surprising if some type of voice activation is introduced soon!

Here are some of the benefits of smart windows:

  • It would eliminate the need for  blinds and shades.  SInce the smart glass can selectively change to provide tint, there would be no need to purchase curtains or custom blinds for your home.
  • Smart windows preserve daytime and nighttime views
  • People can enjoy shading on-demand.
  • Minimize glare in the room, particularly while watching daytime TV in a room with large windows.
  • They could generate huge savings on heating and cooling costs
  • Maximize daylighting
  • Protecting the colour on fabric furnishings from fading
  • Provides the same level of privacy as completely closed curtain or blinds would

All the benefits seem too good to be true so, what’s keeping smart windows from becoming mainstream?  The cost. Currently the market for smart glass is finding it’s way into commercial buildings however, residential smart glass is expected to cost about two or three times as much as conventional glass.  However, similar to other advances in technology, the cost is likely to drop with further research and development into the product.  Remember when you couldn’t get a flat screen TV for under $1000? Now, you could buy one anywhere from $200 and up.

When the cost of smart windows  reaches an affordable rate for the average homeowner, surely, smart windows would be a popular choice when considering window replacements, not to mention it would be a really good investment into the value of the home.

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