Israeli Startup Shatters the Way We Look at - and Through - Glass

Controlling the transparency of windows with a touch is no longer science fiction: Meet smart glass and Gauzy, the startup behind it.

Every so often a new company changes our concept of how we utilize everyday products. Gauzy, a startup in south Tel Aviv, is revolutionizing not only the way we look at glass - but also the way we look through it.

If its business model works, the sentence “Mom, please turn down the window” may not sound so strange in a few years.

Gauzy, which has ten employees, was started in 2009 by CEO Eyal Peso and CTO Adrian Lofer. They met at the wifi firm Alvarion, where they worked as engineers.

Their dream, as people hailing from the world of hardware and software, was to bring innovative technology to traditional industries such as glass manufacturing, and to put the “smart” into our environment.

At the first stage, Gauzy is focusing on developing and manufacturing glass that can be dimmed or made opaque with a touch. It’s developing a see-through on demand refrigerator (the doors are opaque the rest of the time). This reduces energy consumption and wear-and-tear on the refrigerator’s rubber seal, which happens in 70 percent of cases where people open the refrigerator door just to see what is inside, not to find something to eat.

Gauzy’s technology is based on the use of liquid crystals, the same material that is used in LCD television screens. Peso, Gauzy’s CEO, says that electrical current can be used to change the glass’s parameters, such as its opacity, and can also create patterns such as window blinds or even advertisements. These capabilities open a window to a world of technological applications.

Besides using liquid crystals in glass processing, Gauzy provides a control that allows customers to choose the glass’s appearance from among various options. The cost of Gauzy’s smart glass, which is sold via glass processors, is between $1,000 and $1,500 per square meter. Peso believes that as more smart glass is manufactured prices will go down and the product will become available to the general public, not just high-end customers.

Gauzy does not make products for end-users. Instead, it authorizes glass manufacturers and processors to incorporate its technology into their own glass, enabling them to expand their own product lines. Gauzy hopes to enable glass processors, who are in stiff competition with manufacturers in China, to add a line of smart products that will give them an advantage in the market. “We found that the industry needs it. It helps manufacturers and gives them a new source of revenue,” says Peso.

Among Gauzy’s customers is Israeli company Electra Elevators, which, jointly with Gauzy, developed an elevator that customers can choose to make either opaque or transparent. The Aish Hatorah yeshiva in Jerusalem has an elevator that becomes transparent only when it reaches the top floor, which has a view of the Western Wall. Architects can use such elevators in malls that have parking floors, which have little visual appeal.

Gauzy is also developing smart windows for the auto industry that allow the driver to control how much light they let in. This solution obviates the need for curtains to protect babies from sunlight.

The technology is also being used in hotel bathrooms in Europe and in Israel. Local clients include the Ritz-Carlton in Herzliya and the Waldorf-Astoria in Jerusalem. Hotel guests can choose to make the wall separating their living space from the bathroom opaque or transparent - giving them more privacy or making the room look larger.

This past week, Gauzy completed a fundraising round of $4 million from British investment firm Sollange Investments. Management will use the funds to double the number of company employees, and also to build a laboratory for the development and manufacture of liquid crystal in Israel. Peso says the laboratory will be the first of its kind outside the Far East. Most manufacture of this glass is concentrated among companies such as Samsung and LG.

Gauzy intends to expand into new directions such as flexible screens and smart windows for home and office that include solar panels.

Gauzy Glass