THE HUM­BLE WIN­DOW has al­ways been iconic, a go-to de­sign dif­fer­en­tia­tor for ar­chi­tects and an im­por­tant fea­ture for home­own­ers. With the in­crease in the num­ber of ‘smart homes' now pop­ping up, their fea­tures may soon even in­clude the abil­ity for self-clea

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - Alis­ter Maple-Brown

The term ‘smart home' con­jures up images of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­tural mas­ter­pieces of the fu­ture, com­plete with ro­bot but­lers and a cus­tomis­able home en­vi­ron­ment that au­to­mat­i­cally adapts based on con­di­tions like air qual­ity, tem­per­a­ture and oc­cu­pier pref­er­ences.

It might seem a far-off vi­sion of the fu­ture, but it's not. The trend of home au­toma­tion con­tin­ues to un­veil new and awe-in­spir­ing tech­nolo­gies on a daily ba­sis – and our win­dows are no ex­cep­tion.

We al­ready have ac­cess to gad­gets, apps and de­vices that can be in­te­grated with win­dows to en­sure home safety and alert us if a win­dow is ajar. And there are mo­torised win­dow cov­er­ings and elec­tric open­ers that al­low us to re­motely con­trol win­dow treat­ments from across the room, coun­try or even the globe.

But now win­dow tech­nol­ogy is go­ing a step fur­ther. ‘Smart win­dows' are here, with glass that adapts to chang­ing con­di­tions ei­ther au­to­mat­i­cally or with the flick of a switch. Elec­trochromic win­dows change tint on de­mand, from com­pletely trans­par­ent to opaque with the touch of a but­ton. Liq­uid crys­tal win­dows use elec­tric cur­rents to switch be­tween clear and translu­cent. Ther­mochromic win­dows also ad­just for tint and opac­ity, with changes driven by tem­per­a­ture. And pho­tochromic win­dows al­ter their tint based on the level of bright­ness. Yes, th­ese in­no­va­tions make for a more com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment for us – but the en­ergy ef­fi­ciency ben­e­fits are also ob­vi­ous.

Tak­ing a step fur­ther, there's even the po­ten­tial for win­dows to be used for com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Imag­ine be­ing able to see di­rectly into a friend's liv­ing room as you video chat with them – the im­age pro­jected di­rectly onto your own liv­ing room win­dow. With both screen and glass tech­nolo­gies ad­vanc­ing so rapidly, this is re­ally not so far-fetched.

But does any of this solve the prob­lem of how to say good­bye to the chore of win­dow clean­ing? The good news is that this wish can be a re­al­ity – self-clean­ing win­dows are al­ready avail­able!

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