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Helping to Raise the IQ of Smart Windows

A LEADING MANUFACTURER OF SMART WINDOWS // Smart Window Control

The customer, a leading manufacturer of smart windows, sought Logic PD’s industrial design, mechanical engineering expertise and complete product lifecycle management services to create a simplified window design. By leveraging solar and connected technology, Logic PD was able to help reduce design complexity to save costs in manufacturing, power and installation.

Challenge

The market for smart windows is growing fast with the advancement of connected technology. In fact, smart glass, which adjusts the transmission of light through windows, is set to be worth nearly $700 million by 2020, according to a report by Pike Research. Over the last several years as the Internet of Things (IoT) has made connecting products and people easier than ever, opportunities have arisen to make smart windows even smarter. Current smart windows require the user to manually tint the windows with a set of electronic controls based on their specific needs at that time. The inputs to the glass are done through a wired connection between each glass panel, making installation very challenging. The customer, a leading manufacturer of smart windows, sought to improve this by leveraging IoT technology to wirelessly connect a solar-powered version of their window controls with building management systems to allow for easier maintenance and control of smart windows. Furthermore, a redesign of the customer’s line of smart windows opened a new business opportunity to drastically reduce installation complexity and costs. To do this successfully, the customer wanted to leverage additional expertise in wireless product development and chose to partner with Logic PD for industrial design and mechanical engineering services.

Solution

The Logic PD industrial design team was tasked with designing the new windows for ease of installation. The Ideation and Discovery stage helped designers to obtain a deeper, real world understanding of the user, marketing and technical needs associated with the new product while experiential research gave the team hands-on interactions. In addition, the design team also conducted field observation activities with users and installation professionals to determine areas of opportunity in design. The industrial design team worked closely with engineers during the Development phase to ensure that the design was carried through to production.

In collaboration with the customer’s electrical engineers, the Logic PD mechanical engineering team’s responsibility was to take the idea of solar energy harvesting, storage, and control and implement successfully within smart windows. The mechanical engineering team developed an enclosure to mount and protect internal components while providing an interconnect between the photovoltaic unit and the controller enclosure. The photovoltaic unit is placed on the outside of each pane of glass, maximizing solar energy incident on its surface, and sends that energy to the battery inside the enclosure to store power for later use. This type mounting design minimized the need for drilling onto the window frame. A custom flex circuit was adhered to the each pane of glass for individual control. Logic PD also assisted the customer with environmental testing of the system to ensure viability.

Results

Logic PD worked closely with the customer to deliver a holistic design, both industrial and mechanical, to improve smart window operation by using solar power and wireless control. The simpler and cleaner design helped to reduce costs by eliminating time in production and manufacturing. By reducing design complexity, Logic PD was also able to make the installation process easier and therefore more cost effective for both the customer and the end user. The final solution can be integrated into existing building management systems, making the integration and control of smart windows an easy transition for building owners. These windows are set to be on the market in 2014. The customer has since returned to Logic PD to work on other initiatives.

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