If you think those sunglasses that darken or lighten automatically in response to changing light conditions are cool, you'll love this. The RavenWindow from RavenBrick changes its tint in response to temperature, so it blocks sunlight entering a building after a set temperature has been reached. Combine it with a layer of insulating materials that store heat during the day and release it at night, and you've got the RavenSkin Smart Wall System.
The technology is the work of Wil McCarthy, a scientist who has written for Nature, Wired, and published a series of science fiction novels and the quantum physics book Hacking Matter. When the window is manufactured, a temperature is decided on as the tipping point for tinting the glass. Once it goes dark, solar heat rays are reflected away.
What's nice is that even when the windows are tinted, you can still see out of them (though they are dark from the outside). So unlike when you draw the blinds or install heat-blocking curtains, you still get natural light inside.
The RavenSkin Smart Wall System promises to cut energy bills by as much as 30 percent, so it's sure to offset the costs of installation (not listed on the RavenBrick website). The "infrared power system" doesn't involve electricity, moving parts or wires, so it's low maintenance,
Perhaps best of all, it can be installed on pre-existing buildings, so it won't be reserved for new construction projects, and we can keep as many bricks in the wall as possible.
The system is set to hit the market in 2013.