We’ve all pondered what the future will be like. Whether it’s flying cars or instant pizza machines, asking about the future is not uncommon.
However, I can confidently say that not many people think about the future of their windshield. In general, people just don’t think about their windshield until it’s broken.
Why? It’s just one of those things that everyone takes for granted and that’s okay. We think about them enough for the whole of us, so don’t you worry.
Back to the point, what’s in store for the future of the auto glass industry? What will windshields look like down the road, what new features will they have, and how will repairs work?
Spoiler, it’s mostly speculation and minor experiments in concept cars, but still all cool, nonetheless.
Pilkington SundymTM Select
Pilkington SundymTM Select technology is possibly th e most exciting advancement we can look forward to in the near-ish future. Pilkington, one of the major glass manufacturers in the world, is developing self-tinting auto glass.
Simply put, you will be able to darken and lighten the windows in your car at will. The windshield may even selectively tint based on where the sun is shining as well. This means no more fiddling with your sun visor or having to a single shade of tint for your vehicle. What a concept.
Corning® Gorilla® Glass
Improving upon and strengthening glass is not a new concept. Since the creation of glass, people have worked to improve its strength and clarity to the best of their abilities.
For centuries, pane glass was all there was. It’s only in relatively recent history that new technologies like tempered and laminated glass became available.
Now, glass manufacturers are working to refine and strengthen what they’ve already nearly mastered. Through amazing scientific methods, Corning® has developed what they call Gorilla® Glass.
Likely you’ve heard this name before, it’s what most smartphone makers use for touch screens and even phone casings. It’s extremely strong and resilient glass that is ideal for withstanding heavy, everyday use and abuse.
As this is a successful product, Corning® is slowly testing and implementing Gorilla® Glass into laminated windshields. These windshields would be much stronger and resistant to scratches and chips than current windshields.
Not only would they likely last longer, but they would also provide more structural protection in the event of an accident or impact to the windshield.
While not widely installed or available, we can likely expect this technology to be adopted by most auto glass manufacturers in the future. For more info, Corning® has an informative video all about the windshield they’ve been developing.
Windshield Size and Glass Canopies
Somewhat surprisingly, windshields are continuously getting larger. You would think that with new camera technology that eventually cars wouldn’t have windshields and that it would all be cameras and internal screens.
That, however, is not the case. Take Tesla, for example, their windshields stretch from the hood too well above the front two seats. These are not the only cars designed this way either.
We are seeing a trend, especially in high-end models, of glass canopies. In other words, the “windshield” runs from hood to trunk. There may be underlying structures, but from the exterior, it appears the roof is made of glass.
Corning® has also displayed some incredible concept cars these past few years that take this idea even further. Parts of the vehicle you never thought could be glass are entirely made of their Gorilla® Glass. “Concept” is the keyword here as these cars are merely to see how far they can stretch the limit of glass in auto manufacturing.
Sensors, Sensors, and More Sensors
While the body of cars seems to be moving toward more glass, side and rear-view mirrors seem to be on the chopping block. As vehicle sensors have developed and improved over the years, again see Tesla’s autopilot, auto manufacturers are seeking to include them in more areas of their vehicles.
They seem to be toying with the idea of replacing those mirrors in our vehicles with sensors. So instead of looking in your mirror to change lanes, you’ll look at a screen OR not even have to look at all, the car will tell you when it’s safe to merge. The same with backup tech, no more mirrors, just sensors and cameras.
This prediction seems to be more of a stretch as there are still governmental safety laws and regulations to hurdle, but you never know.
This prediction for the future is a little more exciting. Imagine, no more dashboard, no more GPS, and no more need to use your phone while driving. Instead, it’s all embedded in your windshield. Your speed, navigation, gauges, and even music all show up on a section of your windshield.
Being realistic, this could pose as a major distractor while driving, BUT if cars drive themselves then that concern goes out the window. If fully autonomous vehicles do become a thing, then imagine being able to watch movies or face time on your long commute or quickly switch off to watch the scenery pass by. Corning’s® version can be explored more here.
I know some vehicles have heads up displays that show your speed or tac, but fully integrated smart technology is a whole different ball game. It would be amazing.
What’s REALLY Next?
No one can say for sure what is in store for the future of the auto glass industry. If any of the technologies we explored become a reality, we would be stoked. This is uniform across all industries though. No one ever knows what innovations will make it to production and which are mere fun dreams. All we can do is watch, wait, and see.