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How Smart Windows Can Improve or Destroy Your Architectural Design

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © nate steiner | Flickr

Samsung has come out with a transparent smart window, and I think it will be interesting to see how this impacts architectural design. You see, such a smart window provides much added functionality — particularly if certain apps get created for this particular “window-type” smart use.

So, will such a smart window do much to improve architectural design? Or could it destroy an architectural design if not integrated correctly? Well, I think it can do both, depending on how it’s used.

I think the placement of such smart windows will be paramount, as will attention to making sure technology isn’t getting in the way. You see, such a smart window is really all about what is going on inside of a room. But I question — what will happen if the window begins to use apps that also take into account what is going on in the nearby exterior? What if the window becomes more truly interactive?

Suddenly, this transparent smart window will act as a communication portal that connects the interior with the exterior in new ways. Already, checking your Twitter account is an “exterior”, but what about your immediate surrounding context?

In order for the smart window to be truly innovative (where it is more than just a computer slapped onto a window), it needs to go-between what a window does and what a computer does. In other words, I think with appropriate app development, some pretty amazing things can be achieved with such a transparent smart window.

For instance, the window succeeds in tying “window” with “computer” as it provides weather information. While simple in theory, looking out of this window will give you more weather information than looking out of a non-smart window. Suddenly, you can not only see the sunshine outside through the window, but you can also see the forecast which calls for rain later in the day. Thus, looking out of this window provides “bigger eyes” — allowing you to delve deeper.

The main point with all of this is to make sure that if you use such a window in your design, it is not fragmenting functionalities for occupants. In other words, make sure that it is uniting functionalities, where associations are more streamlined and congruent. Thus, this smart window can really serve to improve your architectural design if you are conscientious about where and how it will be used. Placement within a home, office, or school could make or break its success.

Place it in the wrong location and this smart window could be a wasted opportunity where it gets in the way. I am also curious as to how finger-prints are dealt with which may obstruct any views.

The key here is to not see this window as simply a boundary between interior and exterior, but as a portal which could also connect two interior spaces. The notion of a “transparent smart surface” will likely manifest into better architectural design uses, as that opens up the potential for more creativity in getting this “window” used in new and more truly innovative ways.

So, all in all, I’d say this is a great step forward — but now it’s up to designers to figure out how best to incorporate such a technology so it’s not in the way, but instead shows the way. Perhaps the magic will reside in the apps that get uploaded to this window; thus, its functionality will provide for better architectural experiences where not only eyes become “bigger”, but the other senses do as well.

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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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