HK startup shows the way toward 'smart' glass

January 10, 2018 18:23
Flim Players founder and CEO Toby So says installation of his firm's smart film is easy and that it takes very little time. Photo: Internet

A Hong Kong startup has rolled out a smart-film product that can easily turn an ordinary glass into a frosted and opaque one and allows the glass to serve as a display monitor.

Film Players Ltd., an entity specializing in film and advanced display solutions, launched recently a 0.4mm thick film that makes an original glass go "smart".

The company’s founder and chief executive, Toby So Tak-ching, said a smart film, like wallpaper, works in a way that it simply sticks on an original glass surface. Once a film on the glass connects to the internet, the glass can serve as a display monitor that shows different kinds of timely data and information, such as time, weather and stock market data.

The smart film can be more automated when used alongside a mobile app or sensor. For instance, a smart film can make the glass surface become frosted immediately after a door is closed.

Smart films, according to So, do not consume much electricity. A mobile phone charger can supply electricity sufficient for about one-month usage to the smart film.

So, who was involved in the LCD business in the past, discovered the smart film technology unintentionally. He believed such technology could lead to enormous potential business opportunities.

"For example, a hotel would need to shut for one or two days to conventionally change its glasses into smart glasses. But it just takes one or two hours to complete our installation. Even taking off the smart film only needs five minutes," he said.

So founded Film Players in March 2016 and invested more than HK$1 million in research & development.

Despite expressing interest in the new technology, not too many enterprises have come forward to purchase the smart film so far. 

"Most Hong Kong companies don't dare to try new things. Even if they do try a little, they’re just willing to do it in a tiny scale," says So.

Since smart films have to be used with an internet connection, a bank, according to So, refused to use it for fear of WiFi failure in its branches. 

He expects the government to take the lead in purchasing innovative technology solutions.

Society will fall back if it avoids trying bold new solutions due to fear that the products may not work out, the entrepreneur points out.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 10

Translation by Jonathan Chong

[Chinese version 中文版]

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