What Might Auto Glass Look Like in 10 Years?

In this day and age, technology is evolving on a daily basis. Not a day goes by where we do not read about some new innovative technological advancement designed to make our lives easier.   That is certainly true when it comes to automobiles and their window glass.

In November, there was a story about the development of an automatic tinting window system.    Then, this month, a report came out about auto manufacturers working around the clock to create a “computerized” windshield system.

When you step back and think about it, it is crazy to think what cars, trucks, minivans and other vehicles will look like a decade from now.   We could very well be driving vehicles that talk to us through the windshield, and have sensors that change the tint on our windows depending on the visibility conditions of the road.   We may even not be driving cars ourselves at all, instead riding as passengers as our vehicle drives us to our destination.  Now, we would be the first to admit, some of this is very difficult to imagine. After awhile, you get used to the way vehicles are made right now, and think they will never change.  However, we know that is not true.  Ever since Henry Ford developed the Model T during the Roarin’ Twenties, the look and body style of automobiles has constantly been changing.

Furthermore, who ever thought that a smartphone would be developed that accepts voice commands?   Yet, Apple did just that when they installed Siri into their iPhone models starting with the 4S.  Along the same lines, thirty years ago, nobody would have envisioned being able to have a real-time, face-to-face conversation without having to be in the same room as the other person.  Look at us now.  Anyone can do that through the brilliance of Skype, or using FaceTime on their iPhone.

The point is we live in an age where quite frankly, things that were previously thought to be impossible are becoming possible by the second.  Therefore, it should not come as a major surprise that technology may render current models of auto glass obsolete in a few, short years.   That said, just because technology changes, does not mean that you have to agree with these changes or even like them.   In fact, while we think these potential technological advances are really neat and support them, we, too, have our own reservations.

First, how is a driver’s visibility going to be affected by images of maps, driving directions and text messages being displayed on their vehicle’s windshield?   Right now, a lot of repairs come from people taking their eyes off the road and traffic around them to look at their phones or in dash GPS units.   Therefore, one might argue a “computerized” windshield would drastically reduce the number of auto accidents. However, those images being displayed courtesy of a “computerized” windshield have to appear somewhere, and in the driver’s line of sight is not an acceptable option.   Remember, the primary function of any window glass in your car is to keep you safe.   It does no good to improve roadway safety by getting driver’s to keep their eyes on the road if you are blocking their line of sight in the process.

Secondly, when it comes to automatically tinting window glass, how will the system be able to quickly recognize changes in lighting?  When driving, there are times that the light around you will change in a matter of seconds from a direct glare, to a short period of clean visibility, then back to a direct glare again.   These automatically tinted windows must be able to recognize these changes and make the appropriate adjustments in seconds, otherwise a driver’s visibility is compromised and an accident may occur.

At the end of the day, regardless of the concerns we may have, we trust these products to be developed with driver safety in mind.   The people creating these technological advancements understand the need for rigorous testing prior to making these products available to the public.  And if they do not, they still have to pass the watchful eye of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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