Cooling down the house: A new smart glass could block both heat and light

smart glass blocks heat light house roof tinted windows
Michael Felix Photography / Shutterstock
Your glasses can change from transparent to translucent and back, so why can’t your windows? Smart glass has been around a while, but it’s very expensive, hence why it’s only been used in super-expensive cars, like the Ferrari 575M Superamerica; the electrochromic roof had five levels of tint owners could cycle through with the addition or removal of electric charge.

While most smart glass blocks ultraviolet light (the visible kind that leads to sunburns), it still lets in heat-producing near-infrared rays. University of Texas at Austin professor Delia Milliron and her team at the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering have developed a material that can control both. The electrochromic materials can block 90 percent of near-infrared rays and 80 percent of the sun’s visible light. It can transition from “dark mode,” blocking both types of light (the equivalent of closing your blinds), to “cool mode,” blocking only near-infrared heat, in two minutes. And if you want a normal window, you can let in both types of light. The team has a proof-of-concept of a “warm” mode that lets in heat but blocks light, so you could block the sun’s glare but keep the warmth on winter days.

Milliron has launched a startup called Heliotrope Technologies to start making a commercial product. The process involves two solutions, which they’ll deposit on glass films. They apply one layer by depositing the solution and spinning it around at high speed to dry it; they then heat it up to 400 degrees Celsius, then spin the other layer on and heat it again. It’s a quicker and less-energy-intensive system than traditional manufacturing, according to MIT Technology Review.

“We believe our new architected nanocomposite could be seen as a model material, establishing the ideal design for a dual-band electrochromic material,” Milliron said in a statement. “This material could be ideal for application as a smart electrochromic window for buildings.” Heliotrope hopes to have a commercial product by 2017.


Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.

Under Armour drops prices on Gore-Tex Jackets, Pants, and backpacks

The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on right now through Monday, February 18. During this time, you can get up to 40 percent off a huge range of outlet items, including Gore-Tex rain gear.
Smart Home

Let a robot do your chores! Here are the best robot vacuums for 2019

Robot vacuums are a convenient way to tidy up your home and minimize your weekly to-do list. From a top-of-the-line model to a handy budget option, here are the best robot vacuums you can buy right now.

Google insists it’s doing what it can to purge Play Store of malicious apps

Google's efforts to provide a secure and safe Play Store for Android users resulted in the company rejecting 55 percent more app submissions in 2018 compared to a year earlier. But the challenge is ongoing.
Smart Home

Researchers are once again trying to science the gluten out of bread

If you've ever found gluten tough to stomach, help may be on the way. Researchers and farmers are exploring solutions that include gene-edited bread, as well as alterations to carbs and fiber.
Smart Home

Frigidaire goes for ‘wow’ factor with new Gallery ranges, fridges, and more

Electrolux's Frigidaire brand is going all out at KBIS 2019. The appliance manufacturer's introductions this year include new ranges with gas, electric, or induction heating; a new refrigerator; and a new dishwasher in its Gallery line.
Product Review

Kwikset Kevo Convert Review: A simple route to a smart lock

While it lacks the features and overall value of the August Smart Lock, Kwikset’s Kevo Convert offers a simple and friendly route to upgrade your front door’s deadbolt. Learn more in our full review.
Smart Home

Say so long to silver. Samsung brings new colors to household appliances

Samsung introduced two new appliance colors, Tuscan Stainless will be available for several kitchen appliances starting in May and for the Family Hub in August. New Samsung washers and dryers will be offered in Champagne Finish.

Instant Pot prices have dropped on these 5 models by up to $30

Whether you're an Instant Pot beginner or Instant Pot veteran these popular multi-cookers are worth the hype. There are so many Instant Pot models on sale right now, it might be hard to choose. We've rounded up all the deals here so you can…
Smart Home

Qualcomm goes all-in on Amazon Alexa voice control with a new development kit

Qualcomm is releasing an early valentine for smart home device manufacturers. The new development kit for its Wi-Fi networks integrates the Amazon Alexa Voice Service to enable voice control in more devices.
Smart Home

Miele stuns KBIS 2019 with wireless probe, self-descaling java pot, and more

Miele rocked KBIS 2019 with waves of new appliances and features. The annual Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show is all about product launches and Miele's appliance reveal was like New York Fashion Week with a single designer.
Smart Home

Amazon’s wall clock is back on the market after Bluetooth snafus

Amazon's Alexa-enabled Wall Clock was a minor disaster when it was finally released in December because of widespread Bluetooth connectivity challenges. After some tweaks, it's now back on sale for $30.
Smart Home

The Nest Secure included a microphone no one knew about — except Google

The Nest Secure home security system has had a microphone this entire time that no one knew about, except Google. The company claims the mic was never turned on, but customers are outraged.

From folding phones to 5G -- here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event treated us to a real parade of technological excellence, from folding phones to new fitness wearables. Here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked on February 20.