Our teams are developing switchable glass, head-up displays, and thermal mitigation technology to make your future commute more interactive, comfortable, and safe.
“Everyone wants to look through the glass, but no one wants to feel the heat or have the exposure to UV,” says Chad Beach, our Product Manager of Advanced Technologies. “Infrared and UV blocking are integral components of nearly every project today. It’s about getting the highest visual light transmission, with the lowest penetration of Infrared and UV.”
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) can damage skin, eyes, and is a major risk factor for skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Custom Glass Solutions is working on windows for the transportation industry that block these harmful rays while still maintaining the glass’ transparency.
While you’re looking through that glass, you’ll soon be able to see important information about your trip with a head-up display (HUD).
“Head-up technology has been around since the mid-’80s,” says Beach. “Now, we’re working on moving more features from the vehicle dash and infotainment system to the car’s windshield where they can be viewed without taking attention away from the road.
Features such as advanced integration of the GPS so as you’re looking out the front window, you’ll see Indicators for your next turn, upcoming highway exit configuration or even hazard alerts that would prevent you from turning into the path of oncoming traffic.
Another big push for HUD is automatic braking warnings when your car senses it’s about to hit something. The warning would flash on the windshield—not the dashboard—so you don’t take your eyes off the road.
“Your windshield could even go as far as to highlight the car, person or animal on your windshield so you could quickly identify them,” he says. “We believe the industry is heading in this direction but we need more development to get this technology into cars, probably in the next 5-10 years.”
While many of these upgrades make for a safer trip, Custom Glass Solutions is also working on innovations when it comes to privacy. Switchable glass makes it possible to control the opacity of windows with the touch of a button. The window will turn opaque when you need privacy, or clear when you want to see out. We’re already seeing this technology used in mass transit overseas.
“In Singapore, there’s a train that passes within feet of people’s apartment windows,” says Beach. “Now, [with switchable glass] the whole right side of the vehicle goes opaque so passengers can’t see inside people’s apartments.”
You can watch a video of the glass in action here:
As our society moves into autonomous vehicles, we’re expecting to see more tech aimed at entertainment and comfort. Along with glass’ premium look and feel, it allows for multifunction use in the same space: as both a window and a screen similar to your phone or tablet. It’s because of this that you can expect to see significantly more glass in vehicles of the future.
“Within the next five years, you’ll be hard pressed to find a car without some kind of automated driving technologies in it,” Beach says. “Once automated driving technologies penetrate our transportation market, transportation will get safer and you will see more and more automakers adding glass to the vehicles to enhance the transit experience.”
A common concern is “how is a car made of glass supposed to protect people from accidents?” The answer is simple: there won’t be any! There’s a vision for “zero accidents” when everything is fully autonomous, meaning if everything is running smoothly, there’s virtually no reason for an accident.
“A lot of things in your car now are designed to keep you protected in the event of a collision,” Beach says. “But once we truly achieve the zero-accident goal, some of the Collison mitigation systems in cars today will become obsolete.”
There’s still a long way to go before all of this becomes a reality, maybe 25 or more years until this technology fully penetrates the market. Aside from testing, non-automated cars will need to be completely phased out and off our streets, as they would pose a substantial risk to autonomous vehicles and the “zero accident” future.
Until then: “We’re developing the core capabilities to implement these technologies, so we’re in the right position to move along as these opportunities arise,” Beach says.