German optics giant Zeiss is set to unveil its cutting-edge Multifunctional Smart Glass technology at CES 2024. The innovation revolves around a thin polymer film that can transform any glass surface—windows of buildings, transparent screens, or vehicle side windows—into an on-demand screen for communications. Boasting over 92 percent transparency and featuring ultra-high-precision optics, the technology combines projection, detection, illumination, and filtering.
Initially revealed in 2019, the Smart Glass has rapidly evolved, finding applications in augmented-reality head-up displays (HUD) for aircraft cockpits. Zeiss expanded its focus to automotive applications at IAA Mobility 2023 and is now gearing up for mass production, heralded by VP Roman Kleindienst as a “Gutenberg moment for holography.”
The upcoming CES showcase will spotlight augmented-reality HUDs for car drivers, potentially extending content display to side and rear windows. This opens the door to Car2X communications, customizable window blackouts, and the possibility of projecting text and images visible only from the inside or outside. Zeiss emphasizes the technology’s impact on automotive design, particularly in creating “holographic” brake lighting.
One standout application is the holocam, which eliminates the need for intrusive punch holes or notches for cameras and sensors. Positioned in the middle of a display, this technology has minimal impact on image brilliance and can gather environmental data such as air pollution and UV exposure.
In a strategic move, Zeiss positions itself as a system provider, offering industrial-scale replication of holograms as a transparent layer to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). This allows manufacturers and suppliers to enhance their products and introduce new functionalities. The company’s focus on presenting industrial solutions at CES aligns with its commitment to shaping the future of transparent smart glass technology without directly marketing finished products.
As CES 2024 opens its doors to the public on January 9, Zeiss’s Multifunctional Smart Glass promises to revolutionize various industries, showcasing the potential of transparent surfaces as dynamic, interactive displays.