Companies have been tinkering with ways to manipulate the appearance and opacity of glass for the past few years. Glass manipulation and smart glass technologies have also been a central piece in plans for the future. Movies like Minority Report and television shows like CSI and SWAT have used smart glass technology to show advanced computer systems – systems that are now beginning to be realized through innovations such as Google Glass.
But one experiment in a busy airport just proved that the most effective smart glass manipulation may have nothing to do with flashy computer displays.
Once people are shuttled through ticketing and security, the often have nothing left to do but wander the concourse and wait. And wait. And wait. This should make them the ideal demographic for businesses that make money the longer someone lingers.
Restaurants and bars stand to make more money if they can have people lingering over a lunch and ordering that last cup of coffee or frosty beer before take-off. So, then, why were these kinds of places struggling when they’re located in a spot designed for people who are sitting around with little or nothing else to do?
One burger place in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was wondering the exact same thing and their sights turned to the sun. The restaurant had an east facing bar along a concourse that placed it directly in the path of a brutal Texas sun. They reached out to the airport for help in finding ways to mitigate the glare, improving customer comfort and – hopefully – their bottom line.
The proposed solution was a product called View Dynamic Glass. Airport officials worked with Silicon Valley based View, Inc. to design a glass that would dim, shading out the Texas sun, reducing the ambient temperature and boosting the amount of time people spent over their lunch.
The results were astounding.
Alcohol sales soared 80 percent in October when compared with the same period in 2016. The only difference between had been the installation of electrochromatic glass. Alcohol contributed 17 percent of the restaurant’s total revenue in that same month, more than double what is had been in October of 2016.
Improved windows could offer a solution for many beleaguered airports, which have struggled to turn a profit on in-airport stores and shops for some time. We just might be entering an era where airport designers finally understand that a comfortable customer is a happy customer. Hopefully, they’ll pass the memo onto airlines.
- Airports Are Using ‘Smart Glass’ to Make You Spend More (Bloomberg)
- Smart Glass Makes Waiting At The Airport More Tolerable: Study (Forbes)