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Inside the Story: Overstock's smart windows

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Inside the Story: Overstock's Smart Windows (Photo: Patrick Fitzgibbon/KUTV)

(KUTV) Another massive building is rising from the dust in Salt Lake Valley, but for some of the construction workers there is one very critical requirement: do not drop the glass.

They are not your everyday windows going up in a building that looks like the Roman Coliseum, but they are far from ancient. The windows are wired with the latest and greatest technology and are expensive to replace.

"It's kind of hard to get too excited about glass, but this is about as high tech as glass gets," said Carter Lee, Senior Vice President of Technology at Overstock.com.

The company is an online retail giant based in Utah that is now building its headquarters in Midvale on a 19-acre lot at about 7300 South and 800 West.

The 231,000 square-foot concrete building will be called the Peace Coliseum because of the peace sign it will have built into the center. But, the real story is the windows.

"Each one of these windows has five layers of metal oxide on it and it's electronically charged with a controller," Lee said.

What that means is that each individual glass pain, 2,060 to be exact, can be individually controlled so you can go from full day light to a much darker shade.

"Each one of them has their own addressable IP address," Lee explained. "We can tint them all the way from 60 percent to four percent light coming in."

The windows also have weather sensors, so if a storm comes in or the sun is going down, they adjust accordingly. The reason to purchase such a product?

"We are a tech company so we are naturally kind of attracted to those types of features," Lee said.

But, Lee also said the real reason has do with employees.

"The windows make the most sense for us," he said. "We were going to spend about a million dollars on blinds, anyway. Obviously the windows are a little bit more than that, but our employee welfare, the health and happiness of our employees, the productivity of those employees was really a big concern."

The Overstock.com headquarters' campus will also include a health care center, a gym, a day care and cafe. All that is also being built to not only keep its employees, but to attract new high-tech talent.

"We spend a lot of money recruiting talent every year. We want to make sure we can retain that talent," Lee said.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place in the fall of last year and it's scheduled to be complete next summer. It will house 1600 employees with the ability to handle another 400.

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