By now we're used to windows being updated with the latest technology. Sure, we may not be clamoring for the new stuff they offer, but progress is progress and at some point, we learn to use and appreciate the changes.
While the price point for new windows is steep and the upgrade process can be a bit clunky, it is something that usually makes our lives better in the end. It's worth wondering, though, just how much windows can change, especially when their main purpose is to allow natural light into buildings.
What windows did you think we were talking about?
Unlike Microsoft's Windows (see what we did there?), actual windows are usually not known for much in the way of exciting technology. Outside of thicker and more resilient glass with different kinds of tinting, none of us probably give too much thought to what kind of advancements are being made.
But researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have come up with an ultra-thin coating that could change how we think of windows. Using a material called vanadium dioxide, the coating responds to both heat and cold and adjusts accordingly.
The coating is 50 to 150 nanometers thick, or roughly one-thousand times thinner than a human hair, and it works by automatically letting in heat when it's cold, and blocking the sun when it's hot. Any window covered with this film would have the ability to regulate temperatures inside a building, which would help with electric bills and the environment.
You'll never look at windows the same way again.
Smart windows are already in some places, though this newest technology will make them even smarter. The Empire State Building in New York installed smart glass windows back in 2010, and after one year reported a savings of $2.4 million, with the windows cutting carbon emissions by 4,000 metric tons.
If that sounds amazing, it's because it is. However, the windows used in the Empire State Building require energy; the ultra-thin film needs nothing since it responds directly to temperature changes.
Think of all the savings that it will provide!
A nice feature with the film is that while it will automatically react to temperature changes, it can be overridden with a switch that will control the level of transparency in the window, acting kind of like a dimmer.
While the film may be most used in windows, it can also help block non-harmful radiation that can ruin plastics and fabrics. However it will be used, the hope is to have the technology released to the public as soon as possible.
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