BCC Research predicts strong growth for smart-glass products over the next five years. Credit: BCC Research.

Apparently some business researchers believe the demand for smart-glass products in the construction industry is poised to soar. Undoubtedly, smart glass—think photochromic and electrochromic glass, windows and curtain walls—has a big future because of potential energy savings and also because they open up huge opportunities for innovative interior designs that are based on walls that can instantly transition from opaque to clear.

I, however, have no particular insights and am agnostic about how quickly demand will climb. Nevertheless, the staff at BCC Research have strong opinions and they say in a new report that the global market for smart glass-based products will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.6 percent from 2011 to 2016, reaching global revenues of nearly $4.2 billion in 2016. That’s a helluva good growth rate (compare this to the 10 percent growth rate BCC recently predicted for sol-gel product markets).

Interestingly, they say the market has been expanding at a pretty healthy clip the last few years, having increased from $883.1 million in 2009, then to $1.2 billion in 2010 and nearly $1.6 billion in 2011. Of that, BCC says the construction segment reached $92.7 million in 2010 and $113.3 million in 2011. This segment is expected to reach $224.3 million by 2016, a CAGR of 14.6%.

What I found to be unexpected is that BCC says the smart glass market in commercial buildings only reached $69.8 million in 2010 and $79.7 million in 2011 (with a projection of reaching $129.5 million by 2016, a CAGR of 10.6 percent). As the chart above indicates, the largest demand has been, and will continue to be, in the transportation and aerospace sectors. I know that smart glass is being used in auto and truck mirrors, and in special displays in aircraft, but perhaps I am missing some other major applications in those sectors.

BCC’s report contains eight sections: history; technical overview; global market analysis (by product type, application and region); overviews of the transportation and aerospace, construction and electronics markets; global industry structure; and finally an analysis of US patents (by region, country, assignee, patent category, application and smart glass type).

For more about smart glass applications, here are a couple of overview videos, the first covering use in the automotive and aerospace industries and the second in construction and interior design