View: High-tech brings its smarts to buildings

USA TODAY
By Jon Swartz
April 27, 2016

OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. — In a cav­ernous man­u­fac­tur­ing plant about 20 miles from Mem­phis, a vision of the future is hum­ming away.

A Cal­i­for­nia start-up called View, which has raised a whop­ping $500 mil­lion from investors includ­ing Corn­ing, Gen­er­al Elec­tric and Khosla Ven­tures, is mak­ing high-tech win­dows that have the poten­tial to bring to build­ings what high-res­o­lu­tion touch­screens did for smart­phones.

View’s win­dows elim­i­nate glare, change hue, mod­er­ate inter­nal tem­per­a­ture — and at some point, could show entire­ly dif­fer­ent views of the out­side world — via a process that  uses a pane of glass sprayed with elec­trochromic mate­r­i­al, which alters light trans­mis­sion.

The result is smart glass that increas­es ener­gy effi­cien­cy and promis­es bet­ter work­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, via tech­nol­o­gy accessed through an app.

When you look at smart glass, the only smart sur­face we saw was on our phones,” says Ben Bajarin, an ana­lyst for Cre­ative Strate­gies who fol­lows the indus­try. “Now, we believe con­sumers are mov­ing toward an age where smart glass can do almost any­thing — for exam­ple, project images of the sun on your win­dows dur­ing a rainy day or view­ing data on the win­dow.”

While ele­ments of the tech­nol­o­gy have been around on a small­er scale, such as car win­dows, View is the first com­pa­ny to com­mer­cial­ly pro­duce such glass at a large scale. Sage­Glass, a Min­neso­ta-based mak­er of elec­trochromic glass, is per­haps View’s best-known com­peti­tor.

Smart, or dynam­ic, glass is turn­ing out to be a key com­po­nent in the con­nect­ed build­ing mar­ket that some peg at up to $1 tril­lion. View esti­mates the smart glass mar­ket could be worth an esti­mat­ed $100 bil­lion world­wide.

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