What Is Switchable Privacy Glass & Is It Right For Your Project?

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What Is Switchable Privacy Glass & Is It Right For Your Project?

When glass was first used for windows two thousand years ago, it presented the dilemma of how to balance privacy with the unobstructed flow of light. Solutions over the millennia have included window treatments of all types, including curtains, blinds and shutters. Now, thanks to advances in technology, Switchable Privacy Glass is the ideal solution. 

What is Switchable Privacy Glass?

Also called Smart Glass or Light Control Glass (LCG®), Switchable Privacy Glass technology switches glass from transparent to opaque with the flip of a switch or the tap of an app, creating a dynamic space that can be either open or private within a matter of seconds. It is used enthusiastically by architects and interior designers in an increasing number of settings, including offices, homes, hotels, retail stores and health care facilities, because of its sleek aesthetics, versatility and energy efficiency.

How Does Switchable Privacy Glass Work?

Switchable Privacy Glass (or LCG® as we call it) is made using liquid crystal formulation between two sheets of flexible plastic coated with a conductive liquid film. It is then UV cured, a process in which ultraviolet light is used to harden the liquid by causing a photochemical reaction. Next, the film is laminated into or retrofitted onto glass or other transparent materials, resulting in LCG®.

Once formulated, the technology alters the amount of light transmitted through the glass so that it appears transparent, translucent or opaque. It utilizes 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 an aligned pattern that makes the glass transparent as light easily passes through. 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 in a matter of seconds, instantly transforming a space from an intimate setting to more of an open plan atmosphere on demand.

Another convenient feature of the technology is that as voltage decreases and the film starts turning off, varying levels of opacity can be achieved, which makes it ideal for both dynamic shading and privacy.

Bottom Line: Is Switchable Privacy Glass Worth It?

Switchable Privacy Glass offers incredible versatility to architectural and interior design projects with its ability to transform windows, doors, interior walls and partitions into dynamic design statements while providing both light and privacy on demand.

While it’s typically more expensive than ordinary glass, in the long run it is cost-effective due to savings in cleaning, energy consumption and design. It is also extraordinarily versatile, and ideal for a range of applications including:

1. Offices

Offices are environments in which both privacy and light are essential. Switchable Privacy Glass offers innumerable opportunities for architects and designers to create a modern, clean look while offering the option for privacy. Its use can maximize square footage and upgrade office spaces to achieve a higher level of functionality and comfort. An additional benefit is that it ensures that employees don’t feel as if they are inside a fish tank, but can work in private when necessary. Glass allows natural light to deeply enter a space, which is known to boost productivity, morale, and both physical and psychological well being.

2. Residential

Offices are environments in which both privacy and light are essential. Switchable Privacy Glass offers innumerable opportunities for architects and designers to create a modern, clean look while offering the option for privacy. Its use can maximize square footage and upgrade office spaces to achieve a higher level of functionality and comfort. An additional benefit is that it ensures that employees don’t feel as if they are inside a fish tank, but can work in private when necessary. Glass allows natural light to deeply enter a space, which is known to boost productivity, morale, and both physical and psychological well being.

3. Hospitality

For a feeling of maximized space, Switchable Privacy Glass bathroom enclosures are ideal. Switchable technology can be used as a partition between the bath and sleeping areas of a guest room, making the room appear larger and offering guests the option of privacy at the touch of a button. It also allows natural light into areas that normally rely solely on artificial sources. It is also a great solution for shower cubicles, giving the bathroom the illusion of being larger, providing privacy options and eliminating the need for shower curtains, which need cleaning and replacement on a regular basis.

4. Retail

The uses of Switchable Privacy Glass in retail spaces are unlimited. It can be used to create dynamic digital displays that can become transparent for optimal use of storefront windows. It allows for abundant daylight while keeping out the heat of the sun, which benefits both customers and employees. It can even be used for dressing room door panels that become opaque when the room is occupied, as well as in bathroom cubicles and as divider walls.

5. Health Care

Switchable Privacy Glass has the ability to meet strict hygiene, visibility and privacy standards in healthcare facilities. It can replace traditional curtains while providing discretionary privacy, allowing staff to monitor patients from a distance, without having to enter rooms. Curtains hinder visibility and carry hospital-borne pathogens, requiring constant removal, cleaning and replacement. Glass, on the other hand, is easily cleaned and sanitized.

Smart glass also has other benefits in the hospital environment. It improves patient experience with its sound dampening qualities, reducing disturbing noises from other patients. It can help eliminate their sense of isolation, enabling them to feel safer through visual contact with staff while affording privacy for rest and time spent with visitors. And finally, it offers pleasing aesthetics without compromising safety. 

No matter the industry or application, it’s clear Switchable Privacy glass provides a dynamic privacy and light solution. We’ve come a long way since glass was first used in windows, doors and partitions. It’s time to move away from outdated fabric blinds and curtains and embrace the next generation of glass.

Want to know more about Smart Glass technology or receive a quote? Contact a Smart Glass Expert at Gauzy today.

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