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Smarts, combined
The ‘smart homes’ of the future will of course be fitted with super-efficient windows and doors, but the really clever bit is how the comfort levels of these homes will be controlled.As high performing as new cutting edge materials and components are, what’s really impressive – and what is going to make the biggest impact in the windows industry – is how the different components integrate together and how they are controlled. Smartphones are the real enabler here, as they allow all the different elements of the smart home to be controlled from one device
In smart homes, the integration of different components happens on a much more detailed level at a much earlier stage in the design process. ‘Digital twins’ of buildings will be created in virtual reality in special labs, where architects and specifiers will be able to see how a building and its different components work together for maximum performance. This will affect every manufacturer and installer in construction – including windows specialists – who will need to work with a new breed of system integrators, ensuring that all the elements of the smart home work together – and can be controlled from a single device.
At Swisspacer’s recent Fenestra-Vision symposium in Salzburg, Andreas Bittis, product manager at Saint- Gobain Building Glass, explained how smart solutions rely heavily on the communication between components,
   to heat and light.
So, it is vital for
installers to inform homeowners what effect different products will have on the energy efficiency of the whole building. Swisspacer’s free phone app Caluwin lets users calculate U- values and WER ratings to show homeowners what the cost of heating the building is likely to be. Ensuring installers have an app like this
  SWISSPACER: Top right – John Cooper, commercial director
Left, inset – Andreas Geith, managing director/ Centre – panel discussion during Fenestra-Vision
disciplines, and users. “For example,” he said, “an intelligent radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip makes it possible to seamlessly document the lifecycle of a window – from production, user behaviour and maintenance, and all the way to disposal.”
As far as the buyer of a smart home is concerned, all this will be largely invisible. They will simply live in a house that is economical to run, with comfort levels that can be adjusted using a single app on their phone. As symposium keynote speaker Dr Richard Keill, chairman of the board of Roto Frank AG said: “If it takes 17 different apps to operate a single window, that is clearly too many. Everything needs to be integrated in a single system.”
Plenty of innovations over the past 20 years have made windows and doors more energy efficient but, in general, people buying a new-build house don’t want to know how efficient the windows are – only how comfortable the building as a whole is to live in and how much it will cost
means they can demonstrate the effect of different window components and how they work together for better thermal performance.
For fabricators willing to embrace the digital revolution, there could be huge rewards.The experts at the Fenestra- Vision symposium agreed that smart buildings will likely be controlled via the building envelope, giving facade and window specialists a vital role in the new world order.
John Cooper, commercial director, Swisspacer says: “Smart homes will soon be the norm – and developers will be looking for specialist fabricators with the best performing windows that can be integrated seamlessly into the digital whole. Fabricators who embrace the technology and disciplines of smart home construction will be in the best position to profit from the next revolution in construction.Will you be one of them?” ❐
    12 The Fabricator 2017

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