Tesla CEO, Elon Musk unveiled a range of textured glass tiles with integrated solar cells that are nearly indistinguishable from conventional tiling, along with a sleek update to the company’s energy-storing Powerwall. Mr. Musk revealed that a row of suburban American houses on Wisteria Lane topped with solar roofs. Each house’s old roofing material had been stripped away, and replaced with one of four new styles of solar tile. The roofs retained a variety of traditional looks, from textured slate shingle to terra cotta tile. The secret to the tiles’ appearance is a special coating that becomes more or less see-through depending on your viewing angle. He described it as a series of micro louvers that work like a privacy screen on a laptop, and said the company is working with 3M on the tech. The effect is dramatic in person. From shallow angles, the tiles appear nontransparent. But as your viewing angle approaches 90 degrees, the underlying solar cell becomes more and more visible. The result is a tile that permits the passage of sunlight from overhead, but still looks opaque to anyone at ground level. Musk showed the audience footage of a drop test to demonstrate that the glass was tougher than materials like clay and slate.
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