Project Details

Helping to Raise the IQ of Smart Windows

The customer, a leading manufacturer of smart windows, sought CES’ industrial design, mechanical engineering expertise, and complete product lifecycle management services to create a simplified window design. Leveraging solar and connected technology, our team was able to help reduce design complexity to save costs in manufacturing, power and installation.

CHALLENGE

The market for smart windows is growing fast with the advancement of connected technology. In fact, smart glass, which adjusts the transmission of light through windows, is set to be worth nearly $700 million by 2020, according to a report by Pike Research. Over the last several years the Internet of Things (IoT) has made connecting products and people easier than ever and created opportunities to make smart windows even smarter. Current smart windows require the user to manually tint the windows with a set of electronic controls based on their specific needs at that time. The inputs to the glass are done through a wired connection between each glass panel, making installation very challenging. The customer, a leading manufacturer of smart windows, sought to improve this by leveraging IoT technology. The new smart windows would be imbued with wireless capabilities and efficient solar power design to directly interface with existing building management systems. This design enables significantly easier maintenance and control of smart windows.

A redesign of the customer’s line of smart windows opened a new business opportunity to drastically reduce installation complexity and costs. To do this successfully, the customer wanted to leverage additional expertise in wireless product development. They chose to partner with our team for the industrial design and mechanical engineering services necessary to succeed in the market.

SOLUTION

Our industrial design team was asked to design the new windows for ease of installation. Ideation and discovery helped designers to obtain a deeper, real world understanding of the user, marketing, and technical needs associated with the new product. Accompanying experiential research gave the team hands-on interactions. The design team also conducted field observation activities with users and installation professionals to determine areas of opportunity in design. The industrial design team worked closely with engineers during the development to ensure that the design was carried through to production.

In collaboration with the customer’s electrical engineers, our mechanical engineering team successfully implemented solar energy harvesting, storage, and control systems all within smart windows. The mechanical engineering team developed an enclosure to mount and protect internal components. An interconnect between the photovoltaic unit and the controller enclosure was also included to facilitate core device function. The photovoltaic unit is placed on the outside of each pane of glass, maximizing solar energy incident on its surface, and sending that energy to the battery inside the enclosure to store power for later use. This type mounting design minimized the need for drilling onto the window frame. A custom flex circuit was adhered to each pane of glass for individual control. We also assisted the customer with environmental testing of the system to ensure viability.

RESULTS

Our team worked closely with the customer to deliver a holistic design that would improve smart window operation by using solar power and wireless control. The simpler and cleaner design helped to reduce costs by eliminating time in production and manufacturing. By reducing design complexity, we were also able to make the installation process easier and more cost effective for both the customer and the end user. The final solution can be integrated into existing building management systems, making the integration and control of smart windows an easy transition for building owners. After the success of the new smart windows, the customer to returned to CES for work on other initiatives.

  • Project Name Smart Window Control
  • Client A LEADING MANUFACTURER OF SMART WINDOWS