Yikes! It's pretty hot outside, isn't it?
If you stay inside where it's cool, you're racking up a big electric bill. Of course, if you're like most people, you have little tricks to cut down on the bill.
You might close your window blinds during the day, to keep the hot sunlight out. Maybe you have blackout curtains in your hottest rooms. You might use smart home technology, like a Nest thermostat, to ensure your air conditioner isn't cranking when no one's home.
Now, there's a promising new technology that will make it even easier and cheaper to keep your house cool and give you privacy, too. Just think about prescription eyeglasses that go from clear to tinted when you're out in the sun.
Stanford University researchers are working on similar technology for your home windows. They've developed windows that turn dark in about three minutes, much faster than existing technology.
Their window has an electrolyte gel on it. Inside that gel are two metal ions and a conductor, such as indium tin oxide.
When a negative electric charge is applied, the window goes dark. The ions harden into a metal. A positive charge makes the window go clear.
In time, these windows will be connected to the internet, so you can control them from your internet-connected devices. The only problem is, this smart-home technology isn't ready to buy just yet.
The researchers developing these smart windows haven't been able to darken the windows for more than a few inches across. Of course, most home windows are much larger than that. They haven't figured out yet how to make an electric charge spread over a large area.
Bonus: For your privacy, smart windows that go dark are a terrific innovation. Don't fret that you can't buy them yet. There are windows that do provide some privacy, just not as fast or as dark as the Stanford researchers are developing.
One brand you may want to look into is SageGlass. However, their windows do not get as dark as some people like and it can take several minutes to go from clear to dark.