Ericsson offers a Window into our Wireless Future

by Jeff Wiener on May 23, 2013

Looking to boost the wireless signal coming into your home? Forget switching providers or upgrading your router, upgrade the windows in your home instead. Always looking for ways to incorporate our growing technological existence with, well, our real existence, Ericsson has come up with some ideas of how to make our windows do more for us. I mean, transparent rectangles of glass that let in light and offer a glimpse of the outside world…that’s so yesterday’s news.

At this week’s CTIA 2013, the annual trade show hosted by the so named international non-profit trade association representing the wireless industry, we’ve seen several interesting announcements, but to this point none more so in my mind than Ericsson’s prototype ‘smart windows.’

The exhibit, predictably titled “Windows of Opportunity,” showcases several research prototypes for these smart windows, one’s that incorporate antennae and other such signal boosting technology, in the hopes that others will be inspired to take up the mantle of building practical products that support our connected everything existence.

While I hate to admit it, we don’t live in an age of technological innovation, with most companies content to tweak existing products rather than think up new ones. Instead, one might call it the age of technological incorporation, as companies look for ways of changing the mundane everyday products of our lives into things that can support our growing technological existence…and there’s nothing more mundane, or ubiquitous, than windows.

“We looked at how we could use the most common element around us,” said Keith Shank, director of the Ericsson’s advanced technology labs, and with virtually every building in the world employing windows, updating windows with wireless technology seemed the most logical choice.

There’s no question that antenna-infused smart windows offer several opportunities to boost reception in buildings, homes, and even vehicles (particularly trains). One particular window Ericsson had on display was designed to trap cellular signals, ideal for increasing coverage in buildings and dead-spots. Further, consider how such technology might one day be employed on trains or airplanes, with each smartphone able to access its own wireless signal boosting window.

Beyond that, Ericsson demonstrated interesting touchscreen windows as well, turning that plain portal to the outside world into a futuristic control device, allowing the user to adjust lights, fans, and other home features with the touch or swipe of a finger.

While admittedly I don’t usually enjoy product reviews, there’s just something about the incorporation of technology into the mundane aspects of our lives that has always interested me, offering a glimpse into the real technological future that lies ahead of us. That said, this might all be a flight of fancy, as Ericsson, for its part, has no plans on getting into the window business, content to file the patents for such technology in the hope that the prototypes of today will inspire other companies to press on in developing our fully incorporated technological existence of tomorrow.

Previous post:

Next post: