We are joined today by the Co-Founder of Octoglass, Mr. Vladislav Kravchenko, based in Moscow, Russia, who has over 9 years experience working within the Smart Glass sector.
Thank you for joining me today, Vladislav.
What responsibilities does your role at Octoglass encompass?
My official position is Business Development Director but I implement a managing director role. I’m responsible for all things that happen with the company, define development strategy and implementation of it.
I always rely on my team in my work. Only through the joint work of committed people is it possible to achieve success. Octoglass is incredibly lucky in this respect. We have managed to attract genuine professionals to our team who are sincerely devoted to their work and the spirit of the company.
Can you tell us what Octoglass’ main product lines are? And what is your competitive advantage in the electrochromic glass sector?
We develop electrochromic (electrically-controllable tinting) solutions based on both organic polymer and inorganic compositions. We produce electrochromic glass mainly for motor vehicles and for architectural applications. All glass-products are made under an individual order of a customer.
What are the advantages of our product?
In a nutshell, it is the presence of black coloring. Yes, we have the glass tinted to neutral black, which is so coveted by many people. Other colors are also available.
Secondly, our solution lacks the haze that most people do not like to see at all. The polymeric electrochromic composition, our actual main product, does not bring additional light scattering into the final product. A regular glass unit has a greater degree of haze than our electrochromic polymer.
Third, our solutions have a high level of contrast. Our standard electrochromic glass has a level of light transmission in a transparent state of 75% and higher, while the lower limit of light transmission in a darkened state of no more than 10-13%.
Fourth, we use safe voltages. The glass is driven by only 1 volt and the supporting energy consumption of glass is 70-80 mW per square meter.
In addition to saving energy, the low power supply voltage reduces the energy dissipation in the structure of the device and consequently increases its service life.
Next, our technology can be combined with other Smart Glass technologies, like PDLC or Thermo-glass options, as well as traditional glass features like fire-resistant glass, frosted glass and others.
In which sectors are Octoglass mainly involved?
With our polymer technology, we are focused mainly on the automotive sector but we also work with marine and internal architectural sectors.
Why automotive? Most passenger vehicles have curved glass installed. And polymer technology can be easily adapted for curved glass of small and middle size. Moreover, we have a great demand for switchable tinting solution, especially for passenger vehicles in our local market.
But we are also optimistic about the use of our products for architectural applications. The usage of our glass with controlled tinting is currently available for indoor use. And we select volunteers for real-world external glazing tests using our polymer electrochromic solution.
Polymer electrochromic solutions can be easily applied to different glazing configurations. And this is its strongest advantage. You can imagine almost any shape and it will work.
I understand Octoglass has developed bulletproof capabilities in electrochromic glass. Is this especially targeted to your automotive customers?
I would formulate the appliance of Octoglass technology not as electrochromic glass with bulletproof capabilities, but rather as bulletproof glass with a controlled tinting function using electrochromic polymer.
The main function of bulletproof glass is protection against the penetration of ballistic projectiles, and the dimming function adds comfort, privacy and additional protection to its users.
We developed and exhibited an electrochromic bulletproof glass together with our strategic partner in 2019. The glass was also showcased at IDEX 2019 – international military show in Abu Dhabi. We were the first to achieve this and we are proud of that.
In addition to automotive use, bulletproof electrochromic glass can also be used for architectural purposes. Both inside and outside of premises. For example, such glass can be used to equip cash office modules, to separate public and private areas, and electrochromic enabled glazing can also be used in areas where increased safety is required.
Are there other electrochromic glass manufacturers with the same capabilities? What makes Octoglass unique?
The smart glass market is still in its infancy. Since electrochromic solutions are a part of the Smart Glass market, it is not to be expected that there is a huge number of competitors in the field of electrochromic glass.
Worldwide production of electrochromic glass is concentrated in the hands of several companies with vertical integration exclusively in the market of architectural glass.
Undoubtedly, there are also alternative technologies that allow to achieve comparable effects. If we talk about PDLC technology, both in the practice of bulletproof glass and outside of it, we can say that PDLC as a technology has not taken root, due to its natural limitations, and in normal use, it is used only as a niche solution with a very limited market due to its inability to reduce light transmission and high level of haze.
The strongest player at the moment is SPD technology, which is easily scalable and applied, but it has its own disadvantages like low maximum light transmission, limited contrasts and a blue color in its darkest state.
In terms of benefits, we believe that electrochromic solutions are the future, and they will dominate the market in future, so we are working in this direction.
Who are your other target customers for bulletproof electrochromic glass?
Well, if we are talking about bulletproof electrochromic glass, then our main clients are government agencies and large corporations who have to work in trouble spots, both inside and outside the country.
Recently, the demand for electrochromic solutions has increased by the army and the navy. Similar solutions are also in demand among individuals who are uncompromising about their comfort, even in conditions when their physical protection is required.
Why do your customers need bulletproof electrochromic glass?
Bulletproof glass is used where it is necessary to ensure the transparency of the structure while maintaining protective functions.
The transparency means that it will be watched through. By a person or by a camera. They need to be protected from the negative effects of physical objects such as ammunition. But the use of bulletproof glass with a controlled tinting function based on polymer electrochromic technology allows not only to add comfort, to protect against the scorching sun.
By the way, all polymer electrochromic devices provide a reflection of infrared radiation and partial absorption of ultraviolet, so they are energy efficient. But also, to get rid of annoying stares.
After all, a potential attacker in some cases will not see the target, so its effectiveness will be significantly reduced than with conventional transparent bulletproof glass.
In addition, bulletproof glass with a controlled tinting function is used as a means of light camouflage. Thus, controlled tinting combined with bulletproof glass helps to save lives.
What product lines are you preparing today that will meet the future needs of your existing customers?
We have our fingers on the pulse of constant improvement of our technologies. And we have the necessary full-cycle base of scientific and technological means for conducting this work.
We want to expand the range of colors available today with other shades. We plan to significantly increase the speed of color change of the polymer solution. We also want to increase the light transmission delta from today’s 65-70% to at least 75% in on-state glass.
In parallel with the organic polymer, Octoglass is developing hybrid and fully solid-state electrochromic devices.
The hybrid technology comprises vacuum deposition of inorganic thin films on two substrates with their subsequent encapsulation via electrolytic polymer into a single glass unit.
And the next development step is the creation of a fully solid-state inorganic electrochromic device capable of operating on only one substrate. Hybrid and solid-state devices, in contrast to the polymer solution, are positioned primarily for architectural applications, where the service life, which is counted in decades, is critical.
What is Octoglass looking for in order to expand its global operations?
Octoglass is very ambitious and plans to spread its electrochromic technology worldwide, making it available in large and small cities, rich countries and regions with limited capabilities.
We are mainly focused on the development of electrochromic solutions, and our production facility cannot satisfy all the demands of the market. Therefore, we are open to partnerships and ready to license our technologies. It is important that they can be implemented without significant costs.
To support our partners and protect our intellectual property, we have filed patents for our technologies in major economic regions of the world.
We are also constantly working with potential investors who are ready to benefit from new technologies. To date, we are running projects to launch polymer electrochromic film and hybrid electrochromic solution into production.
Finally, how do you plan to meet the global needs of the electrochromic glass sector?
The global demands of the Smart Glass market in general are quite diverse.
On the one hand, the highest quality of final products with ideal characteristics is required, but on the other hand, a minimum cost for the end-user is asked.
Currently, there is no solution in the world that can meet all the mentioned requirements. Every product always has compromises. We strive to do our job responsibly and consistently: not only to improve the performance of our products but also to spread electrochromic solutions as widely as possible, making them available to consumers on a mass scale.