If you have spent much time at all in airports, chances are you remember this scenario all too well. You spend the effort to get through security, find yourself a cup of coffee, then meander to a seat near your gate. As you settle in with your luggage nearby, you just start to get comfortable when the sun shifts to the point that it's blinding you. The air around you starts to heat up, and you find yourself quite uncomfortable. You're forced to move to a new spot or start heating up with the sunlight coming through the window.
Some airports are trying to put a stop to this scenario with the addition of smart glass. Smart glass uses technology to respond to the changes in light intensity from the moving sun. This allows it to darken and lighten in response to the amount of sunlight coming in the windows, similar to the way transitions glasses do. This lowers the temperature inside a space and reduces glare in an area with large windows significantly, and airports are realizing that this technology will make their customers more comfortable.
A Case in Point – Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
This technology was tested out recently in the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, and with interesting results. The A28 burger restaurant in the airport, which has an east-facing bar, installed View Dynamic Glass in the bar area. This glass automatically responded to changes in light intensity to keep the bar cooler and darker.
What happened was quite interesting. During the time period that the glass was installed and sales were tracked, alcohol sales increased by 80 percent. It appeared that when customers were comfortable, they stayed in the bar longer and were more apt to buy an extra round or even two before their flight. In other words, keeping customers cool and comfortable led to higher sales figures.
Of course, bar tabs are beneficial, but the airport took the study a bit further. They also replaced the window glass in the entire A28 gate with the smart glass, then compared the actions of passengers to those in a similarly oriented gate elsewhere in the airport. This particular study found that the temperature inside the gate dropped by over 10 degrees, helping to lower cooling costs, and passengers were happier and more relaxed when lounging in the gate with the smart glass.
This particular study had a clear lesson both for the Dallas airport and for others around the globe – removing heat and glare will cause travelers to spend more time relaxing at the airport, and in turn they will spend more. It will also lead to happier, more satisfied customers.