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New startup uses film for a 'virtual venetian blind' in smart windows

By: Chuck Soder
CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS

July 21, 2014

A new Kent State University spinout company in Kent, Ohio, knows how to make windows switch from clear to opaque and vice versa.

Flexible ITO Solutions, which goes by FITOS, has an informal development agreement with a smart window manufacturer that could use the technology to make windows that can block light.

Eventually, the technology could be used to create less expensive displays for touch-screen devices, according to FITOS CEO John West.

For now, the company is focused on commercializing the window technology. It works like “a virtual venetian blind” that can let in some light in while blocking the rest, according to West, a Kent State professor who led the development of the technology.

FITOS will make flexible, transparent films that can fit between panes of glass. The films contain indium tin oxide — the ITO in FITOS. The company controllably cracks that material, creating invisible electrode patterns that make it possible to control the movement of light through the window.

FITOS is based at Kent State’s Centennial Research Park. West isn’t yet being paid, nor is chief operating officer Cevin Cole. The only paid employees are Nick Diorio, a postdoctoral researcher at Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute, and Paul Olson, a University of Akron student doing an internship in West’s lab at Kent State.