Luckily for AP Technoglass, somebody's been reading the scientific journals.
AP hustled out to talk to the patent holder, Research Frontiers Inc. of Woodbury, N.Y., about using the new technology on automotive glass.
"They told us they hadn't even really thought about the automotive market," says Doug Nouse, AP's vice president of marketing and business planning.
AP quickly enlightened the high-tech firm with a word: Sunroofs. Sunroofs capable of going dark with the touch of a dial - sunroofs with no need for a sliding shade panel in the roof.
The glass uses a "suspended-particle device," basically a film that conducts a low voltage of electricity. As a current passes through it, its millions of suspended particles line up like magnetized filaments or disperse, permitting more light or less light to pass through.
Last month, Research Frontiers awarded the supplier a nonexclusive global license for the technology. Nouse believes the glass will show up in high-end vehicles first. And relying on its parent company in Japan, he anticipates the U.S. subsidiary will also sell to customers back in Asia.
"We see some big applications for this," enthuses Nouse. But first there has to be a supply chain, he notes.
The patent holder has licensed chemical companies in the United States and Asia to make the emulsion for the pigments. It has licensed industrial film producers, like Polaroid Corp. to make the actual film. AP Technolgass and other window and mirror makers would turn the materials into automotive glass. And then AP Technoglass will have to work with a sunroof manufacturer to put the glass into use.
"We just got the license, so we've been out talking to sunroof companies and auto companies," Nouse says. "We're getting a good reaction."