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SK Holdings invests $100m in US smart glass maker

SK Holdings, the holding company of the nation’s second-largest conglomerate by market cap, has invested $100 million into American smart glass manufacturer Kinestral in a deal that gives the Korean company the right to manufacture and sell the product in China.

Smart glass tints to darker neutral grays to block solar heat and light when voltage is applied. The product, used both for residential and commercial buildings, blocks 99 percent of ultraviolet light and reduces 30 percent of heat energy consumed inside. 

An image of smart glassed used for residential building. (SK Holdings)
An image of smart glassed used for residential building. (SK Holdings)

California-based Kinestral has developed a smart-tinting glass called Halio and holds the patent rights.

The smart glass market has been growing as an energy-saving solution for buildings and homes, SK said.

The market for smart glass used for commercial buildings in North America and Europe is estimated at 8 trillion won ($7.17 billion) a year, according to Research and Markets, a global market research institute.

The market size is expected to surpass 15 trillion won by 2026, and grow at a faster pace in the future if it is applied to other sectors such as automobiles.

Launched in 2010, Kinestral has started providing the product to general hospitals in the US and Europe as well as to exhibition sites and construction companies. The US company plans to increase its production capacity to manufacture 5 million square meters of smart glass a year and become the largest provider of smart tinting glass in the world.

SK Holdings is the only South Korean business to invest in a smart glass manufacturer, the company said. Global information and communication technology companies, including Japan’s Softbank, have been rushing into the smart glass market by making considerable investments, SK officials said.

Not just its function of saving energy, SK is looking into the possibility of using smart glass as a data platform that collects and provides information on buildings and cars, and locking unauthorized entry via sensors applied to the product, she added.

By Cho Chung-un (