Earlier this week I posted a video showing a simulation of Boeing's 787 electrochromic windows. And I asked the question - is the switching speed in the video a far-faster-than-real-life simulation?
It's hard to know for certain. But Boeing is still using a 100-second switching speed in its advertising materials. Check out the following link:
100 seconds seems like an awfully long time to go from light to dark and vice versa. As such, Research Frontiers - whose suspended particle device (SPD)-Smart window shades are licensed for use in aviation to InspecTech Aero - might find itself in a sweet spot as airframers and airlines study new window and shade technology to replace plastic pull-down shades.
So what makes SPD so special? SPD technology is fast. It only takes only two seconds to go clear. It can also be made out of lightweight plastic (electrochromic on aircraft needs to use glass), and has an infinite amount of intermediate settings (i.e. no pre-sets required) so that the passenger or the flight crew can precisely adjust how much light is coming into the cabin. Check out a video here:
In the King Airs that this technology is flying on (offered through HawkerBeechcraft's RAPID ordering system and elsewhere), each passenger has control over the window at his or her seat, but flight attendants and the cockpit also have full control over all the windows in the aircraft.
Significantly, the technology is also now flying in the bathrooms of Qantas Airbus A380s to much acclaim. Check out the final paragraph in Travel and Leisure's article about the Qantas A380. It reads:
The most extravagant detail of all, however, isn't in the first-class cabin itself, but in its bathrooms. They are large, with an expansive sink and counter, and there's a window. When you walk in, the window, the surface of which is covered in liquid crystals, appears to be translucent. (Who could look in from the outside to invade your privacy, I'll never know.) When you lock the door, it transforms, as if by magic, into a transparent surface. Where else can you shut yourself in a bathroom and gaze out at the world from 30,000ft?
So did Research Frontiers find itself busy at the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg?
"I was pleasantly surprised with the general crowd at the show because our technology is used in the automotive industry and when you go to the auto shows this year, it has been kind of sour and dour, but in Hamburg, it was bustling, energetic and upbeat," Research Frontiers president Joseph Harary tells Runway Girl.
He says the firm's booth "was extremely crowded" and that executives "had probably five minutes throughout the whole show when there wasn't anyone in the booth". Indeed, Flight's own show daily folks dropped by.
The action is "a reflection on the high interest in switchables", says Harary, but he believes it's more than that. "People are not satisfied with the slow switching speed [of electrochromic] so far. The difference between two to three seconds [of SPD] versus the electrochromic on the Boeing web site [is significant]. What if it took 100 seconds to switch a radio station?"
Good question. What if it took 100 seconds to switch to another radio station? Would you bother?