Also known as switchable glass, smart glass is an innovative glass whose light transmission properties change with the application of light, heat, or voltage. The glass usually changes from translucent to transparent to block or allow light to pass through. Smart glasses can be of different types, such as electrochromic, photochromic, thermochromic, suspended particle device (SPD), polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC), micro-blind, and nanocrystal glass.
Smart glasses are mainly used in the construction, transportation, and automotive industries. In buildings and automobiles, smart glasses are installed as doors and windows, rear-view mirrors, windshields, and sunroofs. The growth of the smart glass industry is being driven by the rising adoption of sustainable solutions in the automotive and construction sectors.
The global smart glass market is projected to register a CAGR of 14.5% between 2016 and 2024, and reach a value of USD 7.04 billion by the end of 2024. The construction sector has been driving the growth of the smart glass industry due to the growing popularity of the green building concept. In buildings, smart glasses help reduce heat and light transmission to maintain the internal ambiance. Apart from thermal and acoustic insulation, smart glasses can help conserve energy as well.
Therefore, increasing construction and renovation or restoration activities, and favourable government mandates and legislations regarding energy-efficient construction are going to boost the global smart glass market. Governments across the world are taking major initiatives for energy saving such as the promotion of green building structures. Smart glass, being an important component of green buildings, can therefore, witness a surge in demand in the coming days.
The automotive industry is another major end-user of smart glasses and increasing automotive production will drive the smart glass market in the coming years. Smart glasses help control heat inside the vehicle and also give protection from UV rays.
Global players like MercedesBenz have started using the SPD technology from 2016, while BMW AG and Daimler AG have also used smart glasses in the sunroofs of their premium cars. In 2016, the automotive segment was the largest consumer of switchable glass, contributing more than 70% of revenue. So, an increasing demand for automobiles, especially for luxury cars due to high disposable incomes, is expected to give a major boost to the global smart glass market.
In 2017, Europe held a major share in the global smart glass market, with a share of more than 30% in terms of value. Europe is a major hub for advanced automobiles, which will generate large demands for smart glass. The European smart glass market is therefore, expected to exhibit significant growth in the coming years, mainly due to the increasing demand from countries like Germany, U.K., France, and Italy.
Europe is closely followed by North America, while the Asia-Pacific region has also emerged as a lucrative market for smart glasses due to its growing real estate industry. The global smart glass industry is dominated by a few players. The major players operating in this market are, Corning Incorporated, Saint Gobain S.A., Asahi Glass Co., Ltd., and DuPont.