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Smart glass is widening its applications from conventional architectural (commercial and residential) to automotive, aviation, rail and marine, etc. Sun roof tops and rearview mirrors of the cars are lucrative applications for smart glass. With the robust growth of cars (especially high end cars), smart glass is also registering healthy growth in automotive market. Partition glass in aviation is also an attractive market, where smart glass suppliers have already received the orders from aviation market leaders.
The total Smart Glass market is expected to reach $3.83 billion by 2017 at a CAGR of 20.3% from 2012 to 2017. Beginning in the early 1970s, the number of research activities resulting in patenting of technologies increased rapidly, leading to the development of advanced fabrication processes, enhanced properties, and an increased number of applications across varied verticals such as construction and automotive. Tints were applied to glass to reduce heat transmission and glare, and glass coated with metal oxide films reflected heat or conducted electricity. This marked the first application of "smart glass" in automotive.
Reflective coatings, low emissivity glass, and gas-filled cavities have all been components of energy-efficient windows since decades but with the commercialization of smart glass technologies such as Electrochromic (EC) and Suspended Particle Display (SPD) among others, there is an increasing adoption of smart glass in both - residential and commercial construction. Smart glass is an essential product to add green factor to the building. Smart glass and smart windows helps in achieving zero-energy goals. Energy efficiency, coupled with potential energy harvesting by incorporating PV cells in these glasses is most likely to make it as a key element of smart and green buildings. The green building is currently an enabler of the smart glass market and is most likely to continue driving the market in long run as well.
With introduction of Electrochromic (EC) rearview mirrors widely used for its auto dimming property and its ability to dynamically control light. Since then, the industry has a come a long way, thanks to continued research and development in the smart glass technology field. Due to the inherent properties of smart glass to reduce the heat loss and glare control, smart glass is being used as sunroof glass in the high end automobiles such as Mercedes-Benz SLK, Audi and BMW. The high end luxury car is witnessing significant adoption of smart glasses not only as sunroof but also as side windows owing to its ability to control glare, provide shading while preserving views, and improving indoor air quality.
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