Smart homes, once a fantastical element of sci-fi stories, are quickly becoming the new normal, as ever more “smart” appliances hit the market. With the growing popularity of digital assistants like Alexa (a 2017 study by the Consumer Technology Association predicted that 44 percent of adults in the United States plan to buy a smart speaker in 2018) consumers automate many of the daily tasks that clog up home life, from big things like keeping your home secure to less pressing details, like combining the weather report with breakfast. Kinestral, maker of the Halio smart-tinting window, wants to do away with pesky blinds, offering a window that can darken to dim incoming sunlight.
The Halio “came out of the need to solve one of the oldest problems in buildings,” vice president of marketing Craig Henricksen told Digital Trends, “which is as soon as you put glass or a window in, suddenly there’s all this light coming in, which we love, we love the views, until that point where it’s too much; too much glare, you can’t do your work.”
Like the thermostat wars, the battle over whether to leave the shades open or closed can be a contentious topic in offices. Some people want to let the sunshine in, others hate the overbearing glare of the sun on their computer screen. Unfortunately, blinds and shutters are generally a binary solution. Halio offers a more nuanced approach, allowing users to adjust the exact amount of light that comes through the glass.
How does it work? Henricksen described the process. “There’s two special chemicals on a piece of glass, separated by a conductive layer. And when you apply a voltage, it moves ions from one side to the other, and depending on which side you push it to, it either blocks light, or lets it through.”
The Halio can connect to digital assistants like Alexa, and users can fine-tune the tinting with remarkable precision. There are two models: The Halio, which allows 70 percent of light through when in its clear state and blocks up to 97 percent of light when tinted, and the Halio Black, which can block up to 99.9 percent of light, perfect for those who hate to be awoken by morning light.
You’ll likely see Halio in your office before your bedroom. Henricksen said that the company is planning to launch Halio for commercial buildings around mid-2018, with residential sales closer to the end of the year. Although the price is not yet set, Henricksen estimated the price will be around four to five times that of a traditional window.