Continental Creates Electronically-Controlled Film to Darken Vehicle Windows

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Continental, a global automotive supplier with its North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, has developed a new film technology that shades car windows. The film is set within the glass and can be darkened automatically or via electric control signals.

"The selective, incremental darkening of the side and rear windows, as well as parts of the windshield, not only offers considerably increased comfort for passengers, but also makes driving safer," says Andreas Wolf, head of the body and security business unit at Continental.

"When the sun is low over the horizon, the driver's hand instinctively goes from the steering wheel to the sun visor, which results in both impaired visibility and a brief decrease in control of the vehicle. In the future, such situations can be detected in advance and the windows could darken automatically before the event even occurs."

Wolf says the films reduce solar radiation and prevents heat from increasing interior temperatures inside a vehicle. He says the films also enhance privacy, as well.

"If the vehicle is parked, the windows darken automatically, so the inside of the vehicle cannot be seen from the outside,” Wolf says.

He says the available film has a slight blue shimmer, but Wolf says Continental expects to offer a broader range of colors in the future. He says touch screen functionalities may also be possible.

"This production-ready film technology is based on embedded particles that arrange themselves randomly when unpowered and darken the window from the outside, while retaining transparency from the inside to the outside,” Wolf says. “Once a voltage is applied, the particles systematically align themselves in parallel, so that the window becomes permeable to light in both directions.”

He says while the film is still cost-intensive for mid-range vehicles, he expects prices to drop once sales ramp up. 

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