Smart Glass is an extremely versatile product: it can be used almost anywhere that ordinary glass is used. In this series of articles, we unpack its many applications to explore how this groundbreaking product can enhance your project. First off, we take a look at internal and external Smart Windows powered by Smart Glass technology.
What is Smart Glass?
Sometimes called Switchable Glass, Privacy Glass or Light Control Glass (LCG), Smart Glass uses technology that switches windows from transparent to translucent or opaque with the touch of a button, automation, or a voice/hand gesture, creating an environment that can be either open or private within a matter of seconds.
This smart technology is favored by architects, interior designers and contractors in many settings, including commercial spaces, hotels, retail stores, hospitals and residences. It can be used for windows, skylights, doors, shower enclosures and partitions of all kinds.
Smart Glass works by altering the amount of light transmitted through the glass so that it can appear transparent, translucent or opaque by utilizing a low-voltage electrical current and an embedded layer of liquid crystal (LC) particles. When the current is turned on, the liquid crystal molecules form a pattern that make the glass transparent. When it is turned off, those molecules return to a random pattern, causing the light to diffuse and the glass to become opaque. As a result, the glass changes appearance within a matter of milliseconds, instantly transforming a space from open to private.
Smart Window Design
The advantage of Smart Windows is that they dynamically change opacity to provide outdoor views, create privacy and enhance comfort. Smart Windows, powered by Smart Glass technology, provide unparalleled control of light and energy use while eliminating the need for traditional window treatments such as blinds, shades or shutters.
The terms “smart windows,” “switchable windows” and “switchable smart glass windows” can all refer to PDLC switchable glass installed in a window application. PDLC, or polymer-dispersed liquid crystals, can be engineered into windows to provide both privacy and energy efficiency. PDLC has the ability to change its transparency when electricity is applied by a switch, light sensor or building automation system.
Smart windows are extremely versatile, offering an effective solution to a wide range of needs and presenting a world of possibilities to create interiors that are both functional and attractive. Here are some examples:
Smart Windows: Doors, Internal & External Applications
Smart Windows can be used as vision panels, the small window in a door which allows people to look through without opening the door. They are generally used in commercial spaces for safety, particularly in the event of a fire, making them ideal for offices, hospitals and schools. The use of Smart Glass transforms a door window panel into a means of creating privacy at the push of a button. Likewise, someone wanting to enter a room can simply press the button and peer in without interrupting its occupants, which can be especially useful in healthcare settings.
Produced so that the embedded PDLC layer is completely protected from the external elements such as wind, rain and moisture, smart outside windows offer increased insulation and UV protection along with IR reflection, all while allowing flexibility for views or privacy depending upon need. Smart glass windows can be incorporated into IGU units.
There are many practical and aesthetic reasons to incorporate interior windows in design, whether in an office, hospital or luxury residential environment. While the primary reason is to bring more natural light to a room, particularly one that does not have any exterior windows, they also serve to create more air circulation, make a room appear more spacious and provide a dynamic decorative look. They may be used as an additional feature of a partition, or to bring more light and a sense of space to a staircase area, which is often dark and narrow. But the incorporation of windows into an interior space presents a privacy issue, which is easily solved with the use of switchable privacy glass.
Why Smart Glass is a Better Choice for Windows
There are many reasons to incorporate Smart Glass technology into your project, whether it’s an office or other commercial space, retail store, health care facility, hotel or high-end home. The primary advantage is the ability to instantly transform the space, creating privacy without the need for blinds or curtains. Smart Glass also creates a sleek, modern aesthetic and is easy to clean and maintain. In addition, its transmittance, or level of transparency, is adjustable, so you can create the ambience that suits your needs.
There are other advantages as well:
- Immediate access to panoramic views
- Enhanced Security
- Glare Reduction
- Efficient Use of Space in the Built Environment
- Reduction of Carbon Footprint
- Blocks Damaging UV Rays
- Easily customizable to accommodate many shapes and sizes
The Bottom Line
Dynamic and multi-functional, Smart Glass windows are an excellent choice in virtually every type of structure. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, privacy glass can solve a multitude of design issues, especially balancing privacy with the biophilic need for access to views of nature. Smart, practical, maintenance free and easily customizable, switchable glass windows for the interior or exterior of any space is an investment to be proud of.
Smart Glass is a rapidly emerging technology impacting every built environment. It’s possible applications are growing day by day, but there are common ones it pays to know about. Next in this series of articles we look at Smart Glass doors.
Want to know more about Smart Glass technology or receive a quote? Contact a Smart Glass Expert at Gauzy today.