A year ago, Corning published a promotional video, “A Day Made of Glass… Made possible by Corning” that provide an intriguing peek into some of the technologies the company is considering—and how it may affect our lifestyles. It proved to be a popular video, racking up well over 17 million views as of today.
As those of us old enough to remember Walt Disney’s movies about the future of communities, transportation and space, these visionary presentations are more informed guesswork than prophecy. Sometimes (most times?) these ideas just don’t work out for a number of reasons, but the exercise of compiling and publishing these visions helps bring excitement and motivation, especially to young people contemplating careers in science and engineering.
However, smart tech-oriented companies tend to be cautious about sharing their “visions” with the public (Steve Jobs was and Apple still is among those at the most secretive end of the spectrum) because they are both concerned about tipping their hand to competitors and, well, being embarrassed by being wrong about the future.
Corning, however, seems to be closer to the other end of the spectrum and has clearly decided that there is value in teasing the public with how high-tech glass products may disrupt a lot of technologies in our future. Now today, nearly on the anniversary of its first “A Day Made of Glass” video, the company has published an update, “A Day Made of Glass, Part 2” that fleshes out more of Corning’s vision and also incorporates some of the market trends over the last year, such as the huge success of the iPad.
Some of the concepts illustrated in the new video include durable, multitouch screens; colossal- and large-scale edge-to-edge displays; ubiquitous electrochromic windows; entire dashboard surfaces made of soft, flexible glass displays; lightweight auto and sunroof glass; designer-friendly photovoltaic units; antimicrobial glass services for medical applications; and even advances in glass fiber optics.
Corning admits that a lot of these products aren’t right around the corner and acknowledges that there is still a lot of RD&D work that is needed to address existing problems with scalability and price.
To be clear, Corning is smart enough not to reveal all of its product and technology bets in this video. Furthermore, the Apple/Gorilla Glass story underlines how even Corning and other top-tier companies cannot always anticipate what external disruptions of the marketplace will rock their corporate world. Nevertheless, ADMOG Part 2 is an fascinating vision and I predict the number of views in the next year will easily exceed the 17 million of Part 1.