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Clarus Glassboards: Timely Testaments to an Age of Glass

“Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come”—Victor Hugo

What Hugo has in mind here is the role timing plays in determining the power of an idea. Some ideas just fit the Zeitgeist. The automobile had to happen at the height of the industrial era. A touch-screen phone’s success was accelerated by the ubiquity of high speed wireless networks. And in our own way, Clarus’ Glassboards came into existence in a time that collaboration and communication (without sacrificing aesthetics) were of utmost importance.

When Microsoft chose the name “Surface” for its tablet computer, the company clearly tapped into the magic of what such a device offers. As an object, a tablet looks like a small, thin rectangle with a glass screen on one side. On the one hand, the device is all surface; it’s just a thin pane covered by non-transparent glass. On the other hand, the device is all depth because it enables our access to endless mines of information and experiences. The name is also particularly compelling because surfaces in general increasingly comprise the places we expect to find interactivity.

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Glass table surfaces, for example, are quickly becoming populated by interactive technologies. While wireless connections have made the sight of a food server in a restaurant taking an order on a tablet device not uncommon, consumers are now ordering their food through the table itself. Such an experience draws a tighter connection between the virtual experience of food on a (digital) menu and the food itself, placed on top of the very surface where the food was displayed.

Inamo Restaurant in London’s Soho neighborhood, for example, has its menu projected on the surface of its glass tables. The restaurant’s website promises that visitors can “set the mood [by choosing their preferred tablecloth], discover the local neighborhood, and even order a taxi home.” In addition to bridging the space between imagination generated by the menu and the actual arrival of food to the customer, the glass brings the local world and the near future to the user’s fingertips.

In Miami, a building simply named “Glass” will be an exclusive luxury condo building eighteen stories high with only ten residences. It will be located in Miami Beach in the trendy South of Fifth neighborhood. Prices for the units start at $ 7 million and go up to $35 million for the three-floor penthouse. Average prices for the building are around $9 million, and it is scheduled to be completed in 2015.

The lobby will feature interactive, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and the stated goal is to integrate indoor and outdoor living. The speculative images of the building on the developer’s website leave the interactive walls pixilated, thus inviting potential owners to project their own visions of what these partitions may deliver.

Glass in automobiles has become a surface onto which we project our fantasies of interactivity and upon which interactive technologies are increasingly delivering information. Windshields, too, are surfaces where we envision finding digital information, and modern Heads Up Displays (HUDs) are providing this already.

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The feature isn’t all fantasy, though. It’s based on BMW’s Connected-Drive technology, which “enables drivers to integrate data from the car, driver and surroundings with an all-encompassing network of interactive information.” BMW’s future is all about glass. The company’s Vision EfficientDynamics concept car is comprised of mostly large glass surfaces, giving the driver an even more immersive experience of the road.

We no longer simply look through glass. We look beyond it. With Clarus Glassboards, we share experiences that help us and our customers shape the world. And we’re just getting started…