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Startup unveils smart windows that tint on demand

Posting in Energy

Smart window startup Soladigm came out of stealth mode today with a new name--it's now known as View--a high-profile pilot installation at W Hotel in San Francisco and ambitions to manufacture its auto-tinting glass on a commercial scale.

The company, which will showcase it's so-called dynamic glass at the GreenBuild Expo in San Francisco this week, spent five years developing technology that uses low-voltage electronic signals to change the color of the glass to absorb or reflect light. (Notice the difference between the photos above and below).

In a commercial setting, GPS sensors are installed in the building and predictive technology that takes into account the angle of the sun as well as weather conditions to adjust the tint. The windows can be controlled by a building management system or manually from a wall switch or networked device, using an iPad or iPhone app.

The smart glass continually adjusts based on conditions outside, eliminating the need for costly add-ons like blinds or external shading structures. The on-demand tinting manages light, glare and even heat--all of which can make sitting next to a window a more enjoyable experience.

The tech was originally developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Rival company Sage Electrochromatics has developed a similar product.

The smart glass is also being marketed as an energy saver, which will help reduce costs and over the long run help pay for the premium-priced windows.

View estimates annual HVAC and lighting consumption is reduced by 20 percent and HVAC peak load is cut by 25 percent in a typical commercial installation.

The company picked a good time to scale up commercially. Demand for smart glass is expected to skyrocket from 110,000 square meters in 2012 to nearly 3.1 million square meters by the end of the decade, according to a report released Monday by Pike Research. The annual value of the worldwide market will grow from $84 million today to nearly $700 million in 2020, Pike Research said.

Photo: View

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— By on November 12, 2012, 8:04 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure