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“Alexa, tint the windows please” – second generation smart-tinting glass starts up in Taipei

Kinestral claims smart-tinting glass can reduce a building’s energy consumption by up to 20 per cent. Photo: © Halio International – Gare Maritime, Extensa
Kinestral claims smart-tinting glass can reduce a building’s energy consumption by up to 20 per cent. Photo: © Halio International – Gare Maritime, Extensa

UPDATED 5 October 2018: The official opening on Thursday of Kinestral’s new smart-tinting glass factory in Miaoli, south of Taipei, allows for the production of commercial quantities of high-quality smart-tinting window glass for the international market.

The factory repurposes technology used for flat panel monitors and the solar industry to achieve the consistency required for high quality output and avoid the quality problems that have plagued smart-tinting glass up until now.

The company uses a number of proprietary processes to produce glass that it claims can achieve full tint in three minutes – an improvement from up to 20 minutes for first generation smart-tinting glass. The glass can be wired into building management systems as well as smart devices: “Alexa, tint the windows please”.

And the smarts that control the glass can be used to control each panel individually or collectively using a smart hub, smart phone or simple wall mounted controls. In a demonstration on site at Miaoli, Craig Henricksen, Kinestral’s VP product and marketing, demonstrated the control by asking Alexa for a chequerboard and the glass responded by tinting every second panel.

Halio Black is an opaque privacy glass that tints to black, with 0.1 per cent light penetration and can also be used in external or interior applications.

The California based company will supply the glass to another Californian based company, Katerra which specialises in prefabricated buildings and which has injected equity into Kinestral. Katerra also recently acquired leading Canadian design firm Michael Green Architecture, which has led global moves in high rise timber construction, a recent report in ARCHITECT magazine said.

Kinestral CEO, Dr SB Cha said that the product can be used in all applications where light passes through glass so glass in vehicles, and even spectacles, are potential applications for the technology. However, the immediate focus will be on further improving the switching speed of the glass. And while the current grey tint is a carefully developed and relatively spectrum neutral, introducing different coloured tints is a future goal.

The first production of glass will be completed next week and shipped to Brussels for use in a new Avondzon aged care home. The architects wanted a window shading solution that would be easy to use for mobility challenged residents and chose smart-tinting glass as the simplest option.

Being a new product, pricing is still largely dependent on the scale of the order until the factory reaches full-scale production.

After that, Kinestral hopes to build a “megafactory” to force pricing as low as possible and make smart-tinting glass available as an affordable mass-market option. Planning for the megafactory is expected to begin in three years, at which time the current factory is expected to be running at capacity.

Damian Clarke travelled to Taipei as a guest of Kinestral Technologies.

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