A new age of glass
Joseph Wong 
The smart-tinting glass can darken and lighten as required, says Yim

GLASS surfaces have always been a preferred choice for many property owners, so it is no surprise that companies with innovative glass products are seeking to tap this growing segment.

For example, interactive glass surfaces are already in daily use, especially in mobile phones, tablets and even automated teller machines but their advent onto the property scene is yet to be fully explored.

What is already in the market are glass technologies that mostly address glare and excessive heat from the sun, says AGC Asia Pacific Pte Ltd marketing manager David Yim.

That’s why the company is looking into the various innovative solutions for sustainability in the building and construction industries, he tells FocusM.

AGC Asia Pacific, operating from Singapore, is the regional headquarters of AGC Group, which is based in Belgium. Its core technologies lie in glass and fluorine chemistry, and it is the world’s leading producer of flat glass.

Among its latest innovations displayed at the recent Build Eco Xpo (BEX) Asia and Mostra Convegno Expocomfort (MCE) Asia 2017 in Singapore was its Halio product.

“Halio came into existence to fill the gaps that existing electrochromic and other smart glass technologies lack,” says Yim.

The smart-tinting glass can darken and lighten as required for sun-blocking, anti-glare and privacy purposes, automatically or on demand, in just under three minutes, he says.

Whether a homeowner wants to darken a room to sleep, watch a movie, or just to create a mood, the system can be controlled via smart devices, a dimmer switch or even voice-controlled, he says.

A close-up of the Halio glass when it is in transition reveals honey-combed patterns only appear while the glass is becoming darker or lighter, disappearing completely thereafter, he says.

“Currently, Halio can be produced in 833mm x 1343mm size. Production of full height Halio panels, of up to 1.5m x 3m, will start in the third quarter of next year,” says Yim.

“We understand many developers and architects may require many months to specify solution designs into new projects, so we are actively looking to discuss how Halio can be integrated into their designs given their development timelines.”

The product also comes with backup power to ensure that windows continue to function in the event of a power outage, he says.

“Halio is a low-voltage device. It only requires electricity during transition from clear to dark, or any tint level in between which the user selects,” he says, pointing out that a glass panel takes 0.2 watts per hour to switch from clear to dark.


Global interest

Worldwide interest in automatically tinting windows is surging because buildings are the highest energy users. In Malaysia, buildings consume a total of 48% of the electricity generated in the country, according to the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water.

Compare this to the US where buildings account for 41% of energy consumption. The world average is estimated at 40%.

Windows are often regarded as one of the least energy-efficient components of buildings, wasting 25-35% of a building’s energy. It is becoming harder for commercial building owners not to look at tinting technology.


New display options

Other advances in glass technology include AGC’s Glascene, a panel of transparent glass on which light projections can be displayed.

Normally, projections are focused on walls but this product, comprising a thin membrane embedded between two sheets of glass, can capture the images, opening up new display options.

Other glass manufacturers are also courting the property sector. Among them is Corning Inc with its super-slim glass laminate which can be precisely cut and contoured right at the work site.

Its more well-known product Gorilla Glass, used mostly in mobile phones, also offers design options, including colours.

And the beauty of being able to print on Gorilla Glass is that custom images can be used to create unique designs, according to Corning.

“If you ever need more glass with the same pattern you just print a duplicate without the time and expense of matching actual materials,” it says.

In addition, Gorilla Glass can also be converted into giant touch screens, adding more options for residential and commercial usage.

With so many options coming into the picture, glass is becoming a more prominent material for the property sector.

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 251.