A Startup's $100M Plan To Make Dumb Windows Smart

Jan 7 2014, 5:22am CST | by

A Startup's $100M Plan To Make Dumb Windows Smart
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

A California startup that turns ordinary windows into intelligent light and heat blockers said Tuesday it’s raised $100 million to boost sales and manufacturing.

The company, called View, makes electrochromic windows, which are sometimes called “smart windows” because they can be programmed to absorb a different amount of light throughout the day in order to cool or warm up a room.

The round of funding, from Madrone Capital Partners, is a mix of equity and debt for the Milpitas-based startup, which focuses primary on the U.S. market but is expanding its effort to Europe and Asia. View has raised over $300 million since inception in 2007.

“Glass doesn’t travel all that well. We’ll need to commit to building manufacturing there,” said Rao Mulpuri, CEO of View, about the company’s overseas plans. “We are reviewing those (options) at the moment.”

In the meantime, the company plans to boost production at its sole factory in Mississippi and hire people for sales, customer service and project management. Because smart windows aren’t common and are electrical equipment, View has to work hard on branding and supervising its customers’ installation work. The startup changed its name from Soladigm to View in 2012 as part of the branding effort.

The company counts the January 2012 installation at the Palo Alto office of software developer SAP as its first commercial-scale project, though it didn’t start to ship its products in a significant volume until later that year. Since then, the company has seen roughly 50 installations of its smart windows in North America, at locations that include hotels, hospitals, government buildings and colleges.

View isn’t just competing with fellow smart window makers such as Sage Electrochromics. It also tries to outshine companies that create energy-saving windows by adding a coating to block infrared and ultraviolet radiation. Compared with View’s smart windows, these coated windows usually cost 50% less to buy and install, Mulpuri said. That difference in upfront expenses could very well turn away companies that would rather spend money on building their core businesses.

But a smart window’s ability to adjust the light filtering level and the tint throughout the day leads to greater energy savings over time, Mulpuri said. The company estimates that its smart windows could cut power use for lighting, heating and cooling systems by 20% over a 12-month period. The savings could hit 25% during the time when heating and cooling equipment is cranked all the way up, such as during hot summer days. View’s customers also save money by foregoing the need to install blinds or other types of shades, he added.

Here is how a smart window works: a dual-pane electrochromic window contains two transparent conducting oxide films sandwiching an ion storage layer, an electrolyte, and an electrochromic layer. Applying a low voltage to the conductive oxide pushes the ions out of the storage layer and through the electrolyte to meet with the electrochromic layer. The meet-up prompts the electrochromic material, which contains tungsten oxide, to absorb or block light. It also causes the material to darken and give the window a tinted look. Reversing the voltage sends the ions back to its storage layer and causes the window to lighten in color and let more light in.

Tungsten oxide is commonly used for engineering smart windows, but it has some shortcomings. The material can heat up a window until it’s too hot to touch. It also doesn’t block infrared light very well, meaning it lets plenty of heat through. View has licensed research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that shows alternative materials could do better.

For now, though, View isn’t ditching tungsten oxide. It needs to boost sales and production to drive down the price of its current technology.

“Right now our primary goal is to make lots and lots of it and get more of it out into the field,” Mulpuri said.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Do You Have The 'Stickability' To Be A Successful Entrepreneur?
It’s no secret that successful entrepreneurs have something special that sets them apart from just the dabblers and hobbyists, but exactly what is it that’s different? Every business venture runs into obstacles,...
 
 
The Masters Post Mortem And Prognosis Without Tiger Woods
The Masters Post Mortem And Prognosis Without Tiger Woods
null Before the Masters, I suggested the leaders of golf carefully examine this 2014 event without Tiger Woods. It would be a forecast of the future of golf without him, which is, of course, inevitable. The examination...
 
 
'X-Men: Days Of Future Past' Gets One Last Trailer
'X-Men: Days Of Future Past' Gets One Last Trailer
I suppose I should have seen this coming. I spent the last three months praising the relative restraint of the X-Men: Days of Future Past marketing campaign. Up until three weeks ago, we had only seen a single trailer,...
 
 
Bruins Tickets Have Biggest Face Price Discount For 1st Round Of NHL Playoffs
In three out of the last four season, the Bruins have faced an original six team in the first round of the playoffs. This year, they’ll face off against the Detroit Red Wings,  a team they haven’t met in the playoffs in...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Do You Have The 'Stickability' To Be A Successful Entrepreneur?
It’s no secret that successful entrepreneurs have something special that sets them apart from just the dabblers and hobbyists, but exactly what is it that’s different? Every business venture runs into obstacles,...
Read more on Business Balla
 
The Masters Post Mortem And Prognosis Without Tiger Woods
null Before the Masters, I suggested the leaders of golf carefully examine this 2014 event without Tiger Woods. It would be a forecast of the future of golf without him, which is, of course, inevitable. The examination...
Read more on Business Balla
 
'X-Men: Days Of Future Past' Gets One Last Trailer
I suppose I should have seen this coming. I spent the last three months praising the relative restraint of the X-Men: Days of Future Past marketing campaign. Up until three weeks ago, we had only seen a single trailer,...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Bruins Tickets Have Biggest Face Price Discount For 1st Round Of NHL Playoffs
In three out of the last four season, the Bruins have faced an original six team in the first round of the playoffs. This year, they’ll face off against the Detroit Red Wings,  a team they haven’t met in the playoffs in...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Don't Underestimate Big Data
The techniques of big data have been criticized recently in a post by Tim Harford among others. It’s quite easy to imagine the potential here has been exaggerated, and a core point about the importance of theory in a...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Even Recreational Marijuana May Be Linked To Brain Changes
Adding to earlier evidence that marijuana may be linked to lasting neurological changes, a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience today finds that even casual pot smoking may have an effect on the size and structure...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Man Pulls Submachine Gun Over 22¢ Tax: 'I'm Tax Exempt'
A Chicago man allegedly brandished a submachine gun in a store. No, he wasn’t robbing it. He just didn’t want to pay a 22-cent tax on a $1.79 two-liter bottle of soda. Taxes are annoying, especially this time of year....
Read more on Business Balla
 
Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that that nation's biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Paul Walker's brothers help complete movie
Paul Walker's younger brothers will help complete his final movie, 'Fast & Furious 7.' Producers confirmed on Tuesday (04.15.14) that Caleb and Cody Walker have signed on to shoot the remaining scenes featuring the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that that nation's biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
 
Auto Balla Sexy Balla Sport Balla TV Balla Politics Balla Movie Balla Apple Balla Business Balla Ad Balla Celebrity Balla