July 17, 2020

Imagine what the future will bring

by Erin Johnson

Albert Einstein said, “Your imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
 
Right now, many of us are living in the day-to-day, just trying to figure out what comes next in our personal and professional lives. Since the pandemic hit, the only constant has been change, and we’re rapidly adapting as individuals and as an industry. We are figuring out ways to persevere and come out of this stronger.
 
One thing that we cannot forget during this time is the power of imagination. Now more than ever, we need to dream, inspire and be inspired, and bring new ideas to the table – to preview the coming attractions in our industry. Personally, I like to follow stories of companies that are using their imaginations to possibly transform windows into something more than they have always been.
 
Here are a few recent examples:


1. Water-filled glass? A professor at Loughborough University in England has been dreaming up this concept for more than a decade. Essentially it involved trapping a sheet of water in a panel of glass to keep buildings warm or cool, depending on the climate. And it doesn’t require other energy supplies and has shown promise to reduce energy usage.

 
According to Dr. Matyas Gutai , “It shows us that thinking holistically about buildings and building components leads to a more efficient and sustainable built environment. In the case of a window for example, if we see it as an isolated system, solar overheating is a challenge that needs to be remedied with cooling. If we approach this holistically, the heat surplus is an opportunity because the same heat is missing from somewhere else [a colder part of the building or hot water supply].”
 
There are already two prototype houses, and the hope is to work on full product development next.


2. 100% 3D-printed homes. As most of us are aware, 3D printing has come a long way in producing prototypes and manufacturing certain parts. It’s quite possible that the company you work for has dabbled in this area. But some out there are pushing the boundaries of this technology further. Earlier this month it was announced that the first all-3D home was constructed in just 15 days without a single builder.

 
The house is located in Camp C in Brussels, a place dedicated to innovation in sustainable building. It includes several floors and was constructed completely onsite. This type of construction will not be the norm anytime soon but can complement traditional construction crews to reduce energy use and emissions.


3. Noise-cancelling windows could be a reality. I saw this one in a recent DWM newsletter and it caught my eye. Researchers in Singapore have developed an idea that incorporates 24 small speakers and a sensor into a window. Together, they then generate an anti-noise signal to reduce room noise by 10 decibels.

 
Such a technology would come in very handy in high-traffic areas, in cities and near airports. They are now in the process of building these noise-cancelling windows in an actual room. Something to keep an eye on!
 
So, yes, things are complicated right now, but there are people out there daring to imagine what comes next. Are you one of them? I’d love to hear about it. Email me directly at erin.johnson@quanex.com.
 

For more information about Quanex visit www.quanex.com
Posted: July 17, 2020 by Erin Johnson Filed under: building, fenestration, technology