Smart glass = smarter car sunroof

Smart glass = smarter car sunroof

Summary: When I used to commute from New Jersey to Long Island several times every week (I know, I know, the greentech writer should not admit this), I found myself driving into the sun on both the outbound and return trip. In the summer months.

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TOPICS: Patents, Legal, Start-Ups
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When I used to commute from New Jersey to Long Island several times every week (I know, I know, the greentech writer should not admit this), I found myself driving into the sun on both the outbound and return trip. In the summer months. My sun visor got a mega-workout. I would also crank the windows up and down while crawling in traffic (darn Yankees), because I am not all the fond of air-conditioning.

I found myself recalling these measures during my recent interview with Joseph Harary, president and CEO of Research Frontiers, a publicly traded maker of smart glass technologies based in Woodbury, N.Y. As you might expect, this company's pitch is that its dynamic smart glass and light-control technology -- called SPD-Smart -- can help control glare and solar heat. There are many potential target uses, such as plane windows, and many potential applications within architectural settings, such as daylight harvesting. Under that scenario, the glass turns from clear to dark to give the interior of a building as much or as little natural daylight as it needs.

"You can use it to derive more heat in the winter, and block the heat in the summer," Harary says.

Another cool application for the technology -- which is protected by around 500 patents -- lies in automobile design. That's the focus of a new relationship disclosed in February 2011 between Research Frontiers and Daimler AG. Under that deal, the SPD-Smart light-control technology will be used for the glass roof of its Mercedes-Benz SLK. The roof can tint from clear to dark by pressing a button. What changes is actually a film manufactured by Hitachi Chemical Co. under a license with Research Frontiers. The video below demonstrates what the glass does.

<iframe width="440" height="290" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/jD1FII3kA_I" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

One of the things that makes Research Frontiers especially interesting among the smart glass players isn't just the fact that there is $80 million in research and development behind this technology. It's the fact that the company actually is publicly traded, which suggests a level of operational maturity not necessarily shared by the other start-ups targeting this space.

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Topics: Patents, Legal, Start-Ups

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4 comments
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  • Regulations

    Many states have laws against having your windows tinted too dark and it doesn't take much to be illegitimate. I hope they have a plan for this.

    I like air conditioning which you will need anyway because you can block the sun but you can't block the heat and humidity. This will likely be expensive for awhile so like most new technology you should wait.
    pizzaman7
  • No need to admit it

    hypocrisy is the defining characteristic of the green movement.
    Richard Flude
    • RE: Smart glass = smarter car sunroof

      @Richard Flude Couldn't agree more, 98% of the "green" people I meet can sure talk the talk but can't back it up by walking the walk.

      Of course I drive one of the most hated "gas guzzlers" out there and am very proud of it :-)
      non-biased
      • RE: Smart glass = smarter car sunroof

        @non-biased It is not just a hypocrisy, it is a way corporations "legally" transfer wealth from our pockets backing it up with their "good" intentions under "green" initiatives.
        It as simple that if there is an imperfect technology , which you have to use so far, why you then charged carbon tax instead of charging the manufacturers who are not investing and promoting energy friendly solutions. Evil irony to put that tax on regular people who just have to use it till there is a better technology coming. In fact gov. do charge corp. but they put that charge back to us.
        will_mike@...