Since the 1980s, automobile makers have used photosensors on rearview mirrors and side mirrors for automatic dimming to reduce light glare. The technology -- also called dynamic glass or switchable glass -- is becoming a ubiquitous feature on cars and trucks, expanding to other features on vehicles like sunroofs and creating millions of dollars in USA.
Just as solar cells were once confined to calculators and space missions, smart glass has been mostly confined to small-scale applications. But it's now increasingly being used for large, building-integrated applications to reduce energy consumption, sparking new interest from both startups and large glass makers.
However, making the technology a ubiquitous piece of the built environment will take a lot more experience in the field and a lot more scale in production through partnerships with major glass manufacturers.
"This market is still very nascent," said Eric Bloom, a senior analyst with Navigant Research. "So far, durability has been pretty good, but we need to see more long term stress testing. We also need to see more high-volume manufacturing to ensure quality control and economies of scale."