German automotive giant BMW and South Korean electronics multinational LG were among some of the biggest brands worldwide to unveil new products this month using smart glass technology developed by Israeli company Gauzy.
At the annual IAA Mobility 2021 conference (also known as the International Motor Show Germany) starting September 7, BMW showcased the BMWi Vision Circular, a compact, all-electric vehicle “conceived in line with the principles of the circular economy” that integrates dynamic shading headlights developed with Gauzy for “a futuristic exterior,” the automaker said.
The headlight systems for both the front and back offer digital surfaces that look like grilles using ultra-thin curved glazing. The headlights come on when the vehicle is turned on and the lighting systems can be controlled to varying degrees.
Separately, LG Display debuted a 55-inch Transparent OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panel using Gauzy’s tech that can replace windows in public transportation vehicles for more dynamic displays. The panel is laminated with Gauzy’s SPD (Suspended Particle Device) technology, which allows for adaptability to bright environments and shifting light conditions. According to the Israeli company, the SPD technology dims the Transparent OLED panel to “any desired opacity, blocking up to 99 percent of light and allowing high contrast and rich colors through day and night.”
“LG Display is pleased to showcase Transparent OLED displays designed for trains in the European market for the first time ever,” said Cho Min-Woo, head of the Transparent OLED business at LG Display, in an announcement during IAA. LG Display is a subsidiary of LG and one of the world’s largest makers of thin-film transistor liquid crystal panels, flexible displays and OLEDs.
The firm, added Cho Min-Woo, “will bring new possibilities with its Transparent OLED to the signage and mobility markets while delivering innovative and trendy new ways for all kinds of companies to display information through eye-catching spatial designs and interior effects.”
Last year, LG began replacing subway train windows in Beijing and Shenzhen with Transparent OLED panels, providing commuters with travel information like subway times and flight schedules, in addition to weather forecasts and news. The panels were also incorporated into overground trains in Japan and in key displays in the parking lot of Seoul’s Trade Tower in South Korea.
Gauzy CEO Eyal Peso told The Times of Israel in a phone interview last week that, with this technology, companies can “take glass [panels] and make them full-blown displays for advertisements and entertainment.”
This opens up a world of possibilities for automakers and other manufacturers, he indicated.
Peso co-founded Gauzy in 2009 with Adrian Loffer, who serves as the company’s chief technology officer. The Tel Aviv-based operation went on to develop liquid crystal glass panels, or smart glass, for use in a variety of industries including automotive, consumer electronics, construction, home appliances and solar.
Its LCG (light control glass) products bring high technology to glass, films and other materials, allowing for a number of applications, including controlling the transparency of windows, making a window go from clear to frosted at a touch of a button, and creating optical blinds within the glass for privacy and shading.
Gauzy has been working with a number of carmakers worldwide, including Daimler, to integrate its light control glass technologies into their vehicles. It has running partnerships with BMW, LG, automotive supplier Brose, Vision Systems, Texas Instruments, and others on a range of light and shading products, Peso said.
“The future of displays is transparent, and it’s here now. The ability to make any window active, multifunctional, and the ability to provide both visual and thermal comfort alongside communication is one of Gauzy’s core goals,” Peso indicated in a company statement this month.” By adding our LCG smart glass technologies to glass and other technologies like transparent OLED, together, we are setting a new standard in signage.”
Promisingly, the tech can also be applied to refrigerators, for example, where Gauzy can make the doors “either transparent or translucent and people don’t have to open it to see what’s inside,” Peso said.
“This can waste a lot of energy because people can sometimes have the door open for two minutes until they decide, and the appliance works very hard to keep its cooling system operating. With Gauzy on the door, this can be prevented,” he added, indicating that some announcements related to these capabilities are in the works.
For now, Peso welcomed the new products by two “huge companies rolling out big applications.”
Gauzy is headquartered in Tel Aviv, with additional manufacturing, operations and sales offices in Germany, China and the United States. Its distribution channels serve leading brands in over 40 countries, the company says.
Last year, Gauzy raised approximately $10 million in Series C funding from investors Hyundai Motor Company, Singapore-based fund BlueRed Partners, and Avery Dennison Corp., a US maker of labeling and packaging materials.