Bringing Smart Windows and IoT Together


Smart Windows and IoT

The “smart” in “smart windows” is changing from meaning just “self-dimming” to including higher levels of functionality, intelligence and the use of use of automation technology, or bringing smart windows and IoT together.  n-tech believes that the melding of smart windows and iot will allow smart window firms to capitalize on current excitement about all things IoT in order to add value to their products.

We must acknowledge however that more advanced smart windows also recognize that some of the older expectations for smart windows have not been met.  In the early days of smart windows, many thought that self-dimming windows would catch on quite quickly – but market penetration has been slow.  Others thought that additional functionality – such as self-cleaning – would come from smart coatings

The definitional shift described above will change the way that smart windows are thought of and how they are used.  In n-tech’s new report on smart windows, we show in detail why smart windows will take on new smart functionality over time. In our view, three important developments, in particular, will be particularly salient in shaping the future of the smart windows business.

Smart windows are for comfort:  

Smart windows will grow towards a market environment where they will become a part of larger technology environment.  For example, smart windows are becoming integrated with modern lighting systems, making energy savings just a part of the smart windows story.  CIR sees this development as being of strategic and representing a major change in how smart windows are being messaged in the market.  Starting now, we anticipate that smart windows will be messaged increasingly as comfort enhancers and not energy-saving devices.

The shift from a focus on energy efficiency to comfort has a number of consequences for the smart windows space.  Most importantly perhaps is that smart windows deployment will be seen increasingly in the context of a “daylighting” strategy in buildings. Also, we anticipate that smart windows firms will make aesthetics, spatial experience and ease of operations a more important part of their marketing strategies.

Smart windows are no longer a toy of the rich:

Until now, the smart windows market has stubbornly refused to shift from prestige commercial buildings and a handful of very high-end homes.  Obviously, this is a significant limitation on the revenue generation potential for smart windows.  The industry hopes that the move towards a comfort focus will help bring in new customers for smart windows.  In a sense, the desire here is to turn smart windows from a toy of the rich to a toy of everyone!

There is some risk here, comfort is a harder story to sell than energy savings, since it can’t be quantified easily.  However, this risk is ameliorated by the fact that “smart” is driving the real estate business right now, not just in the premium segment, but in the market segment just below it.  And it’s not just the end user that may appreciate the inclusion of smart windows in projects, many investors especially in commercial real estate space will want to invest in the projects that have inclusion of IoT and other smart automation systems.

Will smart windows become a software play?

As noted above, n-tech observes that smart windows demand will increasingly become driven by integrated intelligence.  We anticipate that this will create a whole new market segment – smart windows software.  Software-control is becoming essential to all that additional functionality – controlled dimming based and weather or time of day, or automated with other lighting and heating systems.  Increasingly, in the future, using predictive analytics – and inherently software-oriented process — enable smart windows to provide real time dimming and lighting  combinations based on a multiplex of factors.

n-tech believes that in the next five years, embedded intelligence engines will drive smart windows markets with the help of predictive data feeds and real-time sensor data, for example adjusting the day light according to density of cloud cover, and on other environmental and temperature conditions all year and without need of any manual interference.  Also implying the growth smart windows software is the fact that smart windows will have to build interfaces and shared controls with smart lighting systems.

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