The smart glass market -- technology used in buildings and vehicles to control heat, light and glare -- is about to explode from $88 million in annual value this year to $899 million by 2022, according to an updated report by Navigant Research.
Conventional glass can be designed to improve lighting and heating in buildings. But it's restricted to set parameters. Smart glass can be programmed to suit the needs of the building's occupants. For example, the windows can dim in the middle of the day and turn more transparent in the mornings and evenings.
The sector is expected to grow due to a perfect combination of design trends, developer priorities and regulations. Buildings and many vehicles are becoming glassier. At the same time, building codes are stricter and owners are placing greater importance on energy performance, the report says. Smart glass is one means to bridge these two somewhat countervailing trends.
The cost of smart glass is the primary barrier to its adoption by automakers and builders, the report says. Navigant Research estimates the prices to the end user are, at a minimum, double what would be paid for static, high-performance glazing. Other factors that could limit the market include concerns about the longevity and aesthetics of smart glass as well as the challenges of building system integration.
These are all large hurdles that could slow the pace of growth, or even stop it in its tracks. But the folks at Navigant Research say based on developments in the past year, the smart glass sector appears poised to survive these growing pains.
In the past year, new industrial-scale production capacity has come online, investments from venture and industrial capital sources have increased and a number of partnerships between smart glass technology companies and suppliers have been announced.
Graphic: Navigant Research