Upside-Down Thinking by Patric Fransko
by Patric Fransko
December 23rd, 2014

Film Advances by 2020

As another year ends, I always like to reflect on how far things have come and speculate on where things are going. With regard to window film, I was thinking about some of the major technological advances we may see by the year 2020. Mind you, some of these exist today, but they have not been applied to window films in a feasible way that has caused large-scale implementation. I may be wrong, that’s why they call it speculation, but here is a list of four technologies that I think will become more integrated into the window film industry in the next five years.

  1. Photochromic – Put simply, this technology allows the glass to darken as it is exposed to specific types of light (typically UV radiation). As that light source is removed, the glass returns back to it’s clear state. Think of this as “transition lenses” for your windows. This product has some hurdles that relate to the number of times a lens can make the switch; however, you can see the advantage of having a window that adjusts its tint according to the sun’s intensity.
  2. Smart Glass – This would allow the glass to be changed from clear to totally opaque with the turn of a switch. This can be achieved through the use of electrochromic, liquid-crystal and suspended particle technologies. As you might guess, this would be a popular option to have not only for solar control, but privacy reasons.
  3. Photovoltaic (PV) – This turns solar energy in electricity, line a traditional solar panel. Using this in a glass application could get interesting as you could turn the glass surfaces of a building into solar panels used to power the building. Imagine the entire skin of a high rise building effectively acting as a large solar panel collecting energy all day long as the sun hits the glass.
  4. Daylighting – This would allow you to take the natural light hitting the glass surfaces of a building and redirect it into the interior space deeper than would typically be possible. Imagine the decrease in electricity needed as it would illuminate interior spaces with the redirected sunlight instead of using the building lighting during the day. It is also important to note that studies have shown that students learn better and patients heal faster with exposure to natural light instead of artificial lighting. I can see this technology being very desirable in hospitals and schools in the coming years.

 

Let me say that much of what I mention will be heavily-developed for glass. New windows already integrate some of these advances and the number that do continue to grow. It will get better and the costs will get lower in the coming years. This combination will cause you to see more of this glass being used in the near future.

While that may sound like a bad thing for our industry, as demand for these technologies grows in the glass business, the demand for a retrofittable, film-based solution will also grow. So, while I see the glass industry leading the way in these areas, I think the window film industry will be following right behind to integrate these improvements onto existing glass.

What do you think about these technologies and their potential to be integrated onto exiting glass in the form window film? I would love to hear your feedback and comments on this.

This blog is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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