Continental Intelligent Car Windows-01

At the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which begins in Las Vegas on January 6, Continental will be showcasing an innovative automatic tint technology. The demo vehicle to be exhibited features “Intelligent Glass Control.” It uses special films inserted into the glass and it can change its transparency through electric control signals, at the touch of a button.

Up until now, this kind of auto-tinting film has only been feasible in the roof area for a small number of high-end cars, such as Mercedes-Benz’s Magic Sky Control system (pictured below) that is offered on the SL, SLK, S-Class Coupe and Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. Now, Continental says it’s ready to be used on all-around windows.

Engineers at Continental will exhibit what it calls a “suspended particle device” film. It is based on embedded particles which can arrange themselves randomly when not activated. If a voltage is applied, the particles align themselves in parallel, so as to allow light to pass through in both directions.

According to Andreas Wolf, head of Continental’s body and security business unit, the windows can automatically lighten when approaching the vehicle with a key or smartphone. In addition to that, the technology brings about several benefits, including lower CO2 emissions through a cooler interior.

S-Class Coupe-15

“We can keep the heat out of the vehicle and significantly reduce the interior temperature,” Wolf said. He added that with the tech, it “relieves” the air conditioning unit, which can then be smaller, more efficient and lighter. Furthermore, sun visors and mechanical blinds can be omitted as well.

According to him, calculations showed reduced CO2 emissions by four grammes per km. This gives electric vehicles an increased range of 5.5%. Secondly, it provides added safety and privacy, “if the vehicle is parked, the windows darken automatically, so the inside of the vehicle cannot be seen from the outside,” Wolf said.

It comes at a price, the technology. The brand says that the the self-tinting tech is still rather expensive, but it’s anticipated that prices will drop quickly as initial applications are taking place in the mobile area. As a reference, other film technologies are based on liquid crystal polymers or electrochromism.