Automotive supplier Continental has developed a new technology that can tint car windows at the push of a button. Intelligent Glass Control uses the application of, or lack of, an electric current to specially made glass, offering privacy, comfort, safety and emissions benefits.
Variable glass tinting for vehicles has been possible for some time, with Hino Motors demonstrating a take on it back in 2007, for example. Continental says, however, that the technology has only been feasible in the roof area of a small number of high-end cars and that its test vehicle shoes the technology employed for side windows, rear windows and windshields for the first time.
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The functionality is achieved by inserting special films with embedded particles into the glass. When a charge is applied, the particles "systematically align themselves in parallel" and make the window clear. When the charge is removed, the particles rearrange themselves randomly, darkening the window and leaving it transparent only from the inside of the vehicle.
The head of Continental's body and security unit, Andreas Wolf, says the technology can offer privacy, increased comfort and improved safety for vehicle occupants. It can, of course, reduce the effects of bright sunshine or glare, but can also eliminate the impaired visibility and reduction in vehicle control of a driver adjusting the car's sun visor.
In addition, the technology can reportedly help to reduce energy usage. By reducing solar radiation, it is able to keep the interior of a vehicle cooler than would otherwise be the case, thereby lessening the need for air conditioning. "Our calculations have shown that the CO2 emissions are reduced by a good four grams per kilometer thanks to these measures, thus increasing the range of electric vehicles by around 5.5 percent," says Wolf.
Continental says the window tinting could be developed to change automatically in future, based on external brightness, for example. The film used currently is said to have a slight blue shimmer, but a range of other color options are expected. In addition, it is suggested that features like energy recovery and touchscreen functionality may also be possible.
Continental has not released cost details, but describes the film as being "still rather cost-intensive." It does, however, expect prices to drop quickly, due to competition from other similar technologies. The firm believes it doesn't matter too much which technology prevails, with the value being in the software and connection know-how.
A car with Continental's Intelligent Glass Control installed will be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas from Jan. 6-9, 2016.