Editor’s [re]Marks
by Drew Vass
March 28th, 2024

I’m a geek. I’ll admit it. But only when it comes to windows.

I often describe myself as a “door and window geek.” I mean, not at parties or anything like that, but in settings where no one’s going to spit their coffee out and look at me like I’m crazy. Like trade shows. After nearly 20 years of covering door and window products, I still get amped up about every little development. Okay, maybe not every little development. But let’s just say anything that’s truly new and out of the ordinary.

It doesn’t take something monumental. I just came across a new window frame that incorporates a strip of vinyl into its channeled, hollow core, that’s coated with an ultra-thin layer of silver. See how I made that sound sexy? The concept is a lot like low-E coatings: By placing a silver coating inside the window frame, heat is reflected outward, preventing it from transferring through the rest of the frame and into a building.

I also discovered window frames that incorporate a thin strip of recycled carbon fiber for reinforcement. They’re light and even though the carbon fiber is as thin as a credit card, they’re unbelievably strong.

These technologies would bore some people to tears, but I found them to be novel and interesting.

I have a research folder labeled “Materials Science.” In it you’ll find articles and studies on anything from gold-sputtered glass to aerogel. You’ll also find some speculative thoughts of my own. Such as: What if every room in a home was equipped with sensors for light, sound, motion, temperature, humidity, air pressure and air quality? And what if information from those sensors was fed back to a central processor that’s linked to automated windows? They could become an important part of a whole-house system. This is where my brain goes wild. I mean, in today’s world, why wouldn’t homes be artificially intelligent? And why not give them the ability to open and close windows and adjust light and heat gain as necessary to maintain maximum health and efficiency?

I’m not alone in this illness.

At recent trade shows, I connected with folks who spend their days pondering these types of ideas. And unlike me, they can do more than just think about it. I’m busy daydreaming; they’re busy sketching up the industry’s next innovations.

A few years back, I began to hear about special labs developed for incubating window technologies. A handful of companies have such facilities under roof, and more are joining in, as well as collaborating. They’re beginning to sound more “techy.” Don’t get me wrong, doors and windows are a long way from the sort of magic that happens at Apple Park in Cupertino, but things are starting look a little more Apple-like around the industry. I think we’re all ready for it.

I’m willing to sign any non-disclosure agreement necessary to see some of these labs and the industry’s next moonshot in person. Make me a hybrid sandwich that includes a layer of vacuum insulating glass (VIG), plus another gas-filled space, for a new breed of triple-pane glazing. Heck, make it two layers of VIG, add some thin glass into the mix and season it with the latest low-E coatings and some silver in the frame. Let’s see where our appetites take us. So long as I’m not paying.

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