Automotive Glass Reaches New Heights


Auto manufacturers are all about integrative technology these days. From self-driving vehicles to vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, giants in the auto industry are getting innovative, and fast. If you’ve found yourself asking, “What will they come up with next?” Well, the answer could be right out your window: interactive glass and power-generating solar panels.

Toyota’s Window to the World

As a kid, you never wanted to ride in the backseat. But, it could get a little less boring—if you’re in the back of a Toyota. Toyota Motor Europe and the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design unveiled the idea of interactive glass, dubbed the “Window to the World,” in one of its concept cars.

The idea is that rear passengers can interact with the outside environment by drawing and zooming in on the window with just the touch of a finger. (Quite the shift from breathing all over your parents’ windows and writing on them with your fingers.)

But it goes beyond just drawing. The glass also has the capability to gauge distance, translate passing objects to the local language and display constellations with the night sky as the background.

The “Window to the World” idea was unveiled a few years ago, and not much information has been released since. So unfortunately, it may be a while before this technology is close to becoming mainstream.

A few more innovations might be closer than you think, though.

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Cars Powered by the Sun

It’s no secret that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is invested in solar energy. In November 2016, he made it known that he planned to bring his solar panel technology to the automotive side of his business.

The Model S already has the option for an all glass panoramic roof that extends from the windshield, and there’s talk it could be available for the Model 3 as well. It seems as though the next step would be to implement solar cells in the sunroof in order to extend the car’s battery life.

According to Business Insider, the tech-giant stated that the company’s solar glass for cars would “create more energy than it used to power certain vehicle features.” Musk also said it would either come standard or be an option with the Model 3, which is set to roll out by the end of 2017.

Toyota Prius’ Solar Roof

While we await the reveal of the Model 3 equipped with solar glass, one car manufacturer has already entered that arena. If you think of eco-friendly cars, it’s hard not to think of the Toyota Prius.

The manufacturer may not be ready to roll out its interactive glass, but its Solar Roof is still something to marvel.

One of its primary purposes is to alleviate heat that accumulates as the car sits in the sun for hours at a time. The roof features a solar-powered ventilation system that turns on an electric fan when the inside temperature goes above 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the fan turns on, it brings in outside air to circulate throughout the vehicle, lowering the inside temperature. While the inside may not be cold, it will help reduce some of the heat.

Heated Windshields

On the flip side, if you live in an area where snow and ice are a common part of the winter, having to scrape the wintry mix off of your windshield every morning can be a nuisance.

However, some cars are being manufactured with windshields that help make it a little less painful.

If you’re an owner of a Jaguar F-Pace, you may have noticed skinny squiggly lines running vertically up the vehicle’s windshield. Those lines are actually heating-element wires embedded in the layers of laminated glass.

Their purpose is to help defrost and de-fog front windshields. The wires are connected to a bus bar, or a conductor, which is connected to electrical connections responsible for heating up the windshield.

Other manufacturers have similar technology such as Toyota and Subaru, but it isn’t quite the same. Certain makes and models of these manufacturers have technology that helps prevent the vehicle’s windshield wipers from freezing.

This feature is referred to as a heated wiper park. It helps prevent damage to the wiper system by keeping the blades from freezing to the windshield.

Automotive Glass of the Present and Future

Technology is changing automotive glass rapidly. Some windshields and sideview mirrors are already equipped with sensors and cameras, making repair and replacement services more time consuming, but more importantly, more imperative to have fixed.

With Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS), the slightest damage can throw the system off-balance. So as technology continues to enhance and be incorporated into auto glass, be sure to check Glass.com for a full list of certified technicians.

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