The SPD-SmartGlass product is composed of nanoparticles in a film which allows control of the tint in a panel of glass, ranging from 0.5% transparency (meaning very dark) to 100% clear. This control may be automatic or user-activated. This technology was developed by Research Frontiers, which has been licensed by Hitachi. Mercedes in turn has announced that the new Mercedes-Benz SLK will be the first large-scale series production vehicle to use Research Frontiers’ patented SPD-SmartGlass technology.
Called the the MAGIC SKY CONTROL panoramic glass roof by Mercedes-Benz, the MAGIC SKY CONTROL feature will allow occupants of the SLK to vary the shade of the panoramic roof instantly, from dark to clear with the press of a button. The German manufacturer has put this technology through its usual rigorous testing in all extreme conditions, from temperatures of -30 degrees centigrade in Scandinavia to 50 degrees centigrade in California’s Death Valley. Mercedes has reported that SPD-SmartGlass significantly reduces inside temperatures up to 10C, which has the effect of reducing the load on the airconditioning system. The lessened load translates to better fuel efficiency and less CO2 emissions. In addition, SPD-SmartGlass also blocks 99% of harmful UV radiation. Test data published by Mercedes-Benz shows that the roof reduces sun exposure levels from over 1,000 watts/square meter to less than 50 watts/square meter.
Most users will of course not care very much for all this technical detail. What will impress them is the ability of the SLK’s new panoramic roof to vary its shade with just the touch of a button. It is a testament to Mercedes’ engineers that such complicated technology has been put to practical use for the everyday man.