“Alexa, dim the glass”.
Some of you will know who SageGlass is. For those who don’t, they are a US-based arm of Saint-Gobain whose marquee product is their electrochromic dynamic glass that can tint on command. Here it is in action:
It is widely used in medical facilities and office buildings in the US and other major cities around the world. I like it. It’s not cheap, but tech like this won’t be. And in the right place, can really add to the character of a building.
Now, as our daily lives become more automated, you can now ask Alexa to turn it on or off, or dim it a little.
Connected to Echo
In a report on US glazing industry magazine The US Glass Network, they report that SageGlass have been able to connect their dynamic glass into Amazon’s Echo. Many of you will have some version of an Echo device at home. The one in the featured image is our full size Echo in our living room, we also have the smaller Echo Dot in the main bedroom. If we has SageGlass at home we would be able to ask Alexa to turn it on, off or dim it.
In the article on USGNN SageGlass explains:
SageGlass is integrating its dynamic glazing with Amazon Echo, giving users the ability to control the tint of their glass though voice command.
The Echo can be installed in buildings that already have SageGlass, depending on cloud connection capability.
“Voice control in homes is driving the landscape of the internet of things. It allows homeowners to streamline everyday tasks that they never thought would be connected,” says Ryan Park, global head of product management at SageGlass. “It was a natural progression to get into the commercial space to make use of connectivity to streamline tasks and efficiencies. Market forces are making manufacturers think about the connectivity of their products.”
Companies and developers are allowed access to the Alexa network in order to develop specific “skills”. Consider it an app dedicated for Alexa. Once Amazon has approved the skill it can be put on their services for people who use Echo devices to then enable for them to use it at home or at work.
The article states that SageGlass have already completed the skill development, and will be working to integrate it at their HQ where they will be able to test and demonstrate it there.
Glass and automation one step closer
Like it or loathe it, home automation creeps ever closer which each development like this. Samsung have smart fridges, Alexa can turn on your lights and operate your heating, and now you can dim your glass via Alexa too. How we live in our spaces and buildings is evolving and is now being adapted to suit our habits and is no longer a case of humans fitting into and around a home.
I like this development a lot. Obviously this isn’t going to have a big direct impact on the home owner market here in the UK. This is still going to be something based very much in the US and in the commercial sphere at the start. But, as homes do get smarter and new-build and retro-fit specifications get better, I think we will see more electrochromic glass products in homes here in the UK in the future. And if and when that does happen, it is this particular step forward which demonstrates that it can be done.
As we move forward, windows and doors are going to be adapted more and more to integrate to smart home systems. There are now a few out there, Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Apple’s HomePod. Glass, door locks, locking mechanisms, in-built sensors are all going to feature in our industry. In reality, all practical things in our daily lives are open to becoming either automated or “smart”. Windows and doors won’t be immune from that.
We have already seen a number of smart door lock manufacturers enter the market, and a number of other well established hardware companies produce their own smart locks as well. To prove their worth, Amazon recently bought Ring the smart door bell and home security company for over $1bn. Assa Abloy bought smart lock maker August at the end of last year also. Door tech like this is valuable, and the fact that startups are now being acquired by the very biggest demonstrates their future importance.
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