January 16, 2019

Glass and Tomorrow’s Smart Home

by Erin Johnson

Just as sure as the ball drops in Times Square, every January brings the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to Las Vegas, one of the world’s biggest tradeshows. Drawing over 180,000 attendees each year, CES is home to some of the wildest new ideas for consumer products touching just about every aspect of life.

This year’s show, which wrapped up in mid-January, was no different. Sure, CES isn’t directly related to the fenestration industry, but I always enjoy checking out some of the highlights from the show every year. But this year, one topic that got plenty of attention may in fact bring windows and doors closer to the CES fold: The Smart Home.

Here’s a brief rundown from PC Mag, reporting on this year’s CES 2019:
What if all the devices in your life could connect to the internet? Not just computers and smartphones, but everything: clocks, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances, cooking utensils, you name it. And what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take your commands? It's not science fiction; it's the Internet of Things (IoT), and it's a key component of home automation and smart homes.

Home automation is exactly what it sounds like: automating the ability to control items around the house—from window shades to pet feeders—with a simple push of a button (or a voice command).

Of course, we’ve been talking about the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 in the manufacturing space for a few years now—now, the next frontier is the everyday home.

Some of today’s biggest names in consumer innovation, and a good handful of scrappy upstarts, are working to deliver new technology that may fundamentally change the way we live inside our homes. As The Verge notes, the market is still very much an open field. “Unlike PCs or phones, which, for the most part, are dominated by a few well-known names, smart home gadgets can come from wherever and whatever brand.” CES is where many new players unveiled new wares for 2019, ranging from everything from smart kitchen appliances to Foldimate, an automatic laundry folding machine that does the work for you. Laundry piles up quickly in my family of four—I know I could use one!

The possibilities are seemingly endless. It gets me thinking about the role windows and doors can play in the home of the future. Consider that one of the biggest drivers of smart home tech is security. Smart doorbells, smart locks, smart cameras and more have offered some homeowners a way to feel a greater sense of safety for themselves and their loved ones. As far as windows go, smart sensors and other monitoring options are beginning to gain greater traction as well.

Consider also, according to a recent research report from n-tech Research, the market for smart window materials—including electrochromic, photochromic, thermochromic and more—could generate upwards of $1.1 billion in revenue by 2022. We’ve previously explored the potential of electrochromic glass, which uses tiny layers of electrochromic coatings on glass surfaces activated by tiny voltages to easily transition between tint states. The technology can proactively respond to sunlight, heat and glare to dramatically enhance indoor comfort. Electrochromic glass has already seen some success in commercial environments—the home is the next logical frontier.

As window and door professionals continue to seek new ways of differentiating themselves, it’s worth considering how these burgeoning new technologies could be applied to our products and services. What’s more, it’s also worth remembering that we can’t be compromising on the fundamental quality and performance of our products for the sake of flashy new technology that doesn’t add true value. After all, many of the most novel products at any CES show never make it to market.

What do you think the future holds for smart window and door technology? I’d love to hear from you at Erin.Johnson@Quanex.com.

For more information about Quanex visit www.quanex.com
Posted: January 16, 2019 by Erin Johnson Filed under: CES, technology, tradeshows