Will You Sell Touchscreen Windows and Doors?

John G. Swanson
March 7, 2011
THE TALK... | Materials & Components

"A Day Made of Glass..." is a very cool video from Corning Inc. that's enjoyed more than 7 million views since it was uploaded on YouTube about a month ago.

It shows a world where iPad apps can be found on nearly any large glass surface—and much more. Granted the video doesn’t show that many window and door glass applications, but it’s still kind of exciting to imagine how building products and our industry could change as these technologies develop and evolve.

The question is, in this fast-changing world, how long is it going to take before these types of technologies begin to have an impact on our products. That's our poll of the week and while I can't require poll takers to watch the video, it sure would help.  And, of course, I'm not just interested in your votes, I'd like your feedback on the ideas and products shown in the video. Where and when do you see these ideas coming to window and door products? Post a comment below or email me to share your thoughts. 

By the way, I learned about this video thanks to a Tweet from Glasslam, one of many industry companies and individuals I’ve found out there in Twitterdom (Thanks @Glasslam). I just entered the world of Tweets a couple weeks ago, I must confess, and I’m still not so sure how valuable it is workwise. But it is kind of fun. So follow me (@JohnWDmag).  I'll keep you up with the latest headlines posted to WindowandDoor.com and much more.

Survey Results for 03/09/2011:


How long before touchscreen glass technology moves to building product applications?

5 Years or Less




5 to 10 Years




More than 20 Years




10 to 20 Years




The building products industry does not change as fast as the computer or consumer electronics industries.  So when nearly two thirds of our poll takers suggest that it's going to be less than 10 years before we see touchscreen glass on building products, I have to admit it's a bit surprising.

It's exciting to me to think about such changes and the opportunities it could create for the window and door industry, but I'll add a cautious note.  Although the poll didn't mention it specifically, the Corning video showed switchable glazing technology.  That technology has been under development for decades and while it's commercially available, demand has not expanded much beyond niche levels. As David Steele notes below, Andersen Windows showcased a number of new window and door technology ideas as part of its Project Odyssey several years ago.  One was a bay window configuration with the picture window serving as a television screen and the two flanking windows serving as the speakers.  In some ways, the products shown in the Corning idea make that five year old idea seem very dated.

There are reasons to be excited and optimistic. What's happening with iPads, smart phones and tablets provides real evidence that touchscreen glass products are here and there's no reason to doubt they'll be getting larger fairly quickly.  Many glass technologies and ideas cannot be far behind.  The challenge for this industry will be packaging such elements with our own products in a sensible way.  Whatever happens, it will be fun to watch.

By the way, I saw something else on the Internet that suggested to me another way touchscreen could impact our industry.  Click on this link to Microsoft Surface and let me know if you think you might be selling windows and doors in a new way in the not-too-distant future.



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Just think, we could all live in a virtual world without the headache of natural or manmade disasters.  Outside, the world is cold. In here, life is beautiful. 

John, Andersen demonstrated similar technology four or five years ago in their Project Odyssey program.  I wondered when it could become commercialized.  Imagine windows with downloadable art, HD TV and Streaming Video.  I can't wait to see how designs will evolve once seating is designed toward the windows instead of toward an inanimate box.


Do you know if Corning allows others to post this video?  I'd like to post it at www.windowgallery.com.


All the best,



The potential windows hold for touchscreen and other digital / glass innovations can be huge. If you think of window glass not as a portal to the outside world - your outside world - but instead as a blank canvas that can change appearance to suit your mood. Want a Maui sunset? Sunrise on Mount Desert Island? How about the middle of Antartica? Just click that button on your home's bluetooth enabled control center and instantly, all the windows in your home, networked together, change the view of the outside world. Want total blackout or Renaissance art? Click another button. Yeah, I think there's huge potential for the window industry once we start defining windows as just holes in the wall.

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