CORDIS - EU research results

Intelligent Glass: Affordable and Maintenance-Free Solution for Transforming Homes and Working Spaces

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Intelligent Glass (Intelligent Glass: Affordable and Maintenance-Free Solution for Transforming Homes and Working Spaces)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2020-02-29

Identified pain-points:
- Low exposure to natural light: Most people spend about 90% of their days indoors , especially people living and working in cities. Vast majority of commercial and residential buildings’ windows do not transmit enough natural light to homes and offices . The baseline consensus is that window-to-wall ratio is max. 40% for commercial and office buildings , and even smaller for homes. Reduced exposure to natural light results in following negative consequences: (a) Health and wellbeing : increased blood pressure, increased stress and anxiety, weaker immune system, worse sleeping cycle, and less happiness. (b) Workplace related : decreased focus and concentration, reduced productivity, worse task progression, reduced energy level.
- Expensive balancing the sunlight: External walls of new commercial buildings and houses are increasingly being built with larger windows and even as glass facades, which requires shades or drapes to regulate sunlight and shading. These shades are often electronically regulated, which is more expensive and requires maintenance. It also sometimes requires additional air conditioning to keep temperature cosy while still enjoy natural sunlight. So, current state-of-the-art is that with larger windows for improved natural light exposure, installation and operating costs also increase: windows let twice the energy through than walls . It is calculated that installation and maintenance of 1 m2 of window with electronic shades costs on average around 2.300 EUR in our pilot region for lower-middle models.
Privacy issues: Now, people need to go to specialized private rooms (e.g. toilets) or spaces (e.g. conference room), to deal with sensitive personal or work-related issues, instead of being able to set-up the space where they are to different mode. Putting aside walls that support the building weight, internal walls often function just to separate different rooms or offices. While such walls do increase privacy, they also reduce net living surface (especially important in small flats or hotel rooms), natural sunlight (need to install additional windows), and worsen collaborative mind-set in offices. On the other hand, open floor concepts positively increase the room volume, but lack the option for user to at least occasionally have a private and less noisy surrounding in the same space - neither office cubicles, nor personalized corner in living-rooms completely solve this issue. It is hard to imagine a hotel room without dedicated wall-enclosed space for toilet.

Overall objective is to finish the technology development and patent it, validate it via real-life pilots, and improve international visibility.
Ph1 activities were oriented to gain new knowledge of the technological, commercial and economic aspects of innovation development. We used following methods: (i) technology and production performance study and pilot set-up of next-gen prototype production, (ii) market analysis, interviews with clients and stakeholders, demonstrations, feedback assessment, and consultations with external experts, (iii) economic analysis, budgeting, business modelling, value proposition fine-tuning. Main activities conducted for completing this study were:
Task 1.1. Tech requirement analysis: We identified and assessed possible technological optimizations and requirements needed for further product development and production. This included assessing component suppliers, technical resources, future features, and testing various performance and equipment checks, including production process.
Task 1.2. Product family preparation: We assessed technical scenarios for introducing another product as part of product family. This included common production process, common core features, ability to improve distinctive feature, and analysis of matching with feedbacks from existing clients and prospects.
Task 2.1. Market and client analysis: We performed an in-depth research of our target segments, and analysed their urgency for adopting solution like Intelligent Glass. This helped us to determine the likelihood of market success, plan next steps and build sales channels, while simultaneously assessing acceptance, accessibility, and purchasing power of our targets. This analysis will include market size, growth potential, and competitive landscape assessment.
Task 2.2. Marketing and sales assessment: We will assess which commercialization option (partnerships or solo) is less risky and brings more long-term benefits. We will also analyse channels to reach our buyers, and improve our strategy for deployment of initial commercialization plan.
Task 2.3. IPR protection analysis. We will conduct an in-depth analysis of possibilities to exploit patenting the Intelligent Glass product and protecting our knowledge of its production.
Task 3.1. Analysis of economic viability: We will perform an analysis of internal company resources and capacities to develop and produce Intelligent Glass as global commercial product. We will also analytically fine-tune costs estimation and revenue projections, perform cost-benefit analysis, and fine-tune business model proposition.
Intelligent Glass uses in-house-improved PDLC-based technology, combined with EC-specific methods for improved array of possible features with not much higher production costs. Intelligent Glass panel contains film of two electrical conductors with liquid crystals in-between, but the film is sandwiched between two processed layers of glass, instead of being just taped to a glass panel. This not only nullifies maintenance issues, but also improves heat-efficiency and PDLC film protection, resulting in increased options for exterior (windows) usage, not only indoors. Also, such technology is less expensive to produce than EC, with similar or even better performance and feature options.

Key features that position Intelligent Glass beyond the state of the art:
• Above state-of-the-art product for intelligent windows or glass walls;
• Beautifully designed, with wow effect;
• Switchable glass transparency for private-social time in same room;
• More natural sunlight at home, reduced health- and UV- related risks;
• Dimmable glass opaqueness for adapting the room to sunlight amount, or mood creation in the room;
• Energy efficient, brings long-term savings.
• Beautifully designed intelligent high-end product for more natural sunlight in workspaces that reduces health leaves;
• Improves productivity with less artificial light requirements;
• Modern alternative to office cubicle: Switchable glass transparency improves space volume and openness, while still assures privacy;
• Allows see-through mode for collaborative or opaque mode for more individual tasks in the same room;
• Energy- and cost-efficient product, no window blinds maintenance.
• Usage as glass walls or facades, without compromising energy costs;
• Thoughtful incorporation into individualized or renewed home/office;
• Smart home or smart office appliance;
• Space-efficient: no need for brick walls to separate rooms.

Expected results of completed innovation project:
- improved production, able to cater EU-wide market demand;
- finished product development by concluding R&D from TRL 6 to TRL 9, and 3 patents approved
- set-up and validated visibility and marketing channels
- pilots with international beta clients
Intelligent Glass in a nutshell