Does this scenario sound familiar? You are driving in the morning, you turn east and suddenly you are virtually blinded by the sunrise. You cannot see anything but scorching white light as you scramble for anything you can find to block the sun from your vision. You should consider tinting your auto glass windows and owning a pair of sunglasses. However, the angle of the sun during sunrise and sunset is often so intense that standard auto glass tinting is not enough to keep you from being blinded and even sun visors are not 100% effective.
Every state has tinting regulations that determine how dark you are allowed to have your auto windows. The reason behind these laws is to ensure that your windows are not tinted so dark that it becomes dangerous to drive at night. However, what if your windshield could become as dark as necessary, when necessary and become as transparent as necessary, when necessary?
The technology already exists and has been used in the vision industry for many years. They are called Photo-chromic lenses and they are made possible by utilizing a polymer film. This is the technology behind Transition Lenses used in Transition Glasses.
Photo-chromic Lenses will darken when exposed to different types of light, the most common being UV light. Once the light source is removed, the lenses will gradually return to their clear state. They can be made of glass, polycarbonate or other types of plastic.
Typically, photo-chromic lenses darken to compensate for UV light in under a minute. They continue to darken as necessary over the next 15 minutes. They will return to transparency in this way as well; when UV light is removed they will clear substantially in under one minute and then take around 15 minutes to completely return to their original transparency.
If we are going to consider using this technology in our windshields, we have to consider the differences between the purpose of glasses and the purpose of windshields. For example, if there was a drastic change in light while someone is wearing transition lenses and they needed to see immediately, they could simply take off their glasses. Although they would not be able to read small signs, they could navigate their way around without running into something.
If there were a sudden shift in light levels while driving, an individual would need the windshield to respond immediately. For example, the windshield industry would have to find a solution for driving in tunnels. The light levels shift immediately and the driver would need absolute visual clarity.
While researching for this article, it became apparent that we were not the first to think of Transition Windshields. On a Ford Motors Forum topic discussing the possibility of transition windshields, Daniel F said, “I was thinking that the windshield along with the other window panel surfaces could be equipped with the transition technology that glasses use, the more sun and the brighter, the more the window panels would darken to block out the sun’s rays? Living in Arizona that would be perfect, sometimes the afternoon sun and morning sun are so piercing to the eyes. Maybe the window would auto adjust to the intensity of the rays? Eliminating the sun visor!! Fewer plastics!! Here in Seattle when the sun does come out, it would be an effortless way to control it...”.
On that same forum, Kimo1994 stated, “What about just doing the side windows and the back window? I love the dark tinting in my back window during the day, but at night, I have to put my head out the window to back up. Also, what if they made it like an adhesive. Like how regular aftermarket tinting is. I know I'd definitely pay for a roll or two of that!”.
Robert McNeill also said, “I wear Transition lenses and like them a lot. (When you wear these glasses, you rarely notice any change. Take them off in bright sunlight and the difference is obvious -- and the lenses are dark.) I did, however, closely question the optometrist about sudden outside darkness. The classic version of this is to be driving down I-95 and enter the Baltimore Tunnel at about 50 mph. I could have a serious safety problem with only a few seconds to adjust to the dark tunnel. Am I going to have to take off my glasses during the last few seconds of approach? He answered that the auto glass in the car would not transmit the UV wavelengths that trigger the 'transition' effect and the lenses would not be dark when driving. So far that seems to be correct".
So the real problems are (a) What sources of ultraviolet light exist at night? I'm not sure oncoming-car headlamps would be a problem. It may depend on what kinds of streetlights are out there. The second problem is the Transition treatment. The Science Channel had a segment on how the lenses are created. First, they are plastic, not glass; not sure how this would work in autos for safety reasons. Second, the lenses are heat-treated and infused with the chemical in special "clean rooms." This may be difficult or impractical for large automotive windshields”.
There are some unofficial rumors that Volvo might be working on such a technology. Volvo has not commented on the matter, so it is not known if these claims are even relatively true. It would make sense, as Volvo is known for having an interest in safety features for their vehicles.
The most current patent owned for the idea of the transition windshield is owned by Ernest R. Love and Brenda J Love. It was issued in March of 2003 and reads as follows, “A vehicle solar windshield system comprising a front windshield composed of a first transition lens material, at least one side window composed of a second transition lens material and a rear windshield composed of a third transition lens material. In one embodiment, the first transition lens material has a first darkening strength, the second lens material has a second darkening strength, which is greater than the first darkening strength and the third lens material has a third darkening strength, which is greater than the second darkening strength. In a preferred embodiment, the transitional lens material is a photo-chromic lens material”.
Paul Ryans, the Operations Manager at SunTec Auto Glass stated, “As you can see, we are most likely not far from implementing this technology in our windshields. However, there are a few obstacles we have yet to overcome if we are to integrate the technology currently used in optometry to the auto glass and windshield industry. Until Transition windshields become a reality, it is still a great idea to have your auto glass and windshield tinted. However, you would probably still need to wear sunglasses and use your sun visor while driving east in the mornings and west in the evenings. Tinting your auto glass will protect the interior of your vehicle, protect your skin from harmful UV rays and keep the interior of your vehicle much cooler during hot days. When you take your vehicle to a certified windshield replacement and auto glass repair shop, ask them if they perform auto glass tinting. If you live in the Phoenix area, come see us at SunTec Auto Glass to have your windshield and auto glass tinted today!”.
If you live in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area and require a windshield replacement or auto glass repair, contact SunTec Auto Glass today. Our windshield replacement and auto glass repair technicians are NGA (National Glass Association) certified and service all vehicle makes and models. We use OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) auto glass and OEM parts, because you and your family's safety matters. We work with every auto insurance company and we accept most forms of payment. We offer free mobile service to Maricopa and Pinal Counties for your convenience. To schedule your windshield replacement, auto glass repair, auto glass tinting or auto glass etching, please contact us at (602) 753-6050 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you think? Is the idea of Transition Windshields in our vehicles realistic? What do you think the pros and cons would be? Share your answers in our comments section!