The past week brought some technology plays to the forefront of our industry. Usually I am pretty upbeat about the possible innovation breakthroughs because I love when we push the line. However this time I’m a little more cautious than normal. The first of the two chunks of news was from NREL with the press release on a thermochromic glass product. This potential product supposedly will mix the thermochromic property into a solar/electricity generating one. The issue I have is this is not new, has been done, and the product they are showing still is nowhere close to any sort of commercialization. It’s very premature that they are even trumpeting this- but if you Google NREL and glass, this isn’t the first time they’ve pushed their news. With every ballyhooed announcement about some solar breakthough and then nothing happens, it does cause our industry as a whole to take on unwarranted criticism that we are not innovating. It’s a neat concept, but that’s all it is right now and until it can be produced in a consistent manner in commercial sizes, the celebration needs to slow a bit.
The second story came from Merck out of Germany with news on a production facility to produce Liquid Crystal (LC) Windows. This has some interesting potentials and it appears this is much much further down the process line than the NREL item mentioned above, but what caught my eye was the distribution comment.
Merck does not see itself as a competitor to glass and window manufacturers, but rather will supply the modules enabling them to make these smart glass elements, windows and façades. In addition, Merck assists architects, designers as well as window and façade makers in an advisory capacity.
So I guess some day soon your window manufacturer will be bringing in LC to integrate into their windows… it just doesn’t seem that doable given the technology needed to handle it all. But it bears watching and despite my comments, I am keeping an open mind.
By the way you may be noticing a lot more news from the “smart” glass world. Reason is based on continuing market studies that say the switchable/smart glass market will be in the billions of dollars in the coming years. It’s been a pretty constant prediction of that since I started blogging and the studies (big numbers coming in a few years!) just keep moving the goal posts. But a billion dollar potential is surely enticing.
-- More positive economic news… the latest Dodge Momentum Index was very strong. It surged up almost 20% on the commercial building side in November. Year over year the index is up 24%. Obviously very good signs. Another good sign are the commercial building backlog statistics. They currently stand at an all time high with this last 6-month stretch blowing the doors off past numbers. All the metrics do have 2018 looking to be very good, obviously we’ll see if everything plays out like the projections are showing.
-- Congrats to Heather Evans of YKK AP America on her first blog on GlassMagazine.com last week. This was a super read and another great use of the medium. Informative, interesting, helpful. Job well done Heather!
-- Next week my glass industry MVP will be revealed along with this years runners up. All I can say is this has been the toughest call yet and none of the past ones were close to easy. So many good choices!
-- Last this week… Folks who know me know I hate the commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell. So obviously this week was not a good one for me when he signed a new contract with the NFL worth 200 million dollars. 200 million. That just makes me ill. I used to live for sports, and especially Sunday NFL football- but that love is long gone. 200 million. Absolutely insane.
LINKS of the WEEK
The bad guys are always coming up with new ways. Now to steal push button start cars….
Wow- I am stunned this still is done… and what a deep letter. Ouch
VIDEO of the WEEK
An old friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I was absolutely mesmerized by it. It’s a great song to start with but then you add the Peanuts gang, all seemingly playing in tune… check it out- great stuff!