Technological changes are happening at an ever increasing pace and there is constant pressure for architects to stay current when it comes to new technologies, materials and trends. Even building materials that had barely changed in a century, such as glass, are undergoing major innovations.
Smart glass is a relatively new product that goes from clear to frosted when powered on and off and is overcoming many of the limitations of ordinary glass. This blog post serves as an introduction to smart glass, its applications and how to specify it for design projects.
Electric privacy glass and film contain a switchable PDLC (polymer-dispersed liquid crystal) layer. When powered on, these liquid crystals align and make the glass transparent. When powered off, these crystals randomly scatter the light and the glass becomes opaque. Smart glass contains this switchable PDLC layer sandwiched between two pieces of glass and is installed just like regular glass. Smart film can be applied to any glass surface to transform it into switchable glass and can be installed as a DIY project or by window film installers.
Popular Applications For Smart Glass
Both products can be used on operable glass surfaces such as glass sliding doors and retractable glass walls. This makes them a great option for just about anywhere from home residences to office buildings, hospitals and schools.
Here are some examples of how and where smart glass is being implemented:
The main entrance and lobby of a building is usually the first opportunity for architects to make an impression. Switchable glass gives commercial buildings, condominiums and skyscrapers a modern, minimalist look and makes an impact on visitors and occupants. Smart glass can also be used as a projection screen for dynamic displays.
Smart glass is becoming an increasingly popular option for schools where both openness and security are important design features. Smart glass is laminated and tempered safety glass that can become opaque in a fraction of a second, making it invaluable for security purposes. Many schools have opted to detail smart glass and film as part of their emergency lockdown procedures.
In addition to providing privacy on demand, smart glass and film can be used as a whiteboard or projection screen. Smart glass classrooms are extremely versatile learning environments that can adapt to the needs of teachers and students throughout the day.
Architects have a lot to take into consideration when designing a medical facility. In addition to the aesthetic, they must carefully evaluate the functionality of the design and how it can be enhanced to provide greater efficiency and comfort for patients and staff.
Traditional privacy curtains can be quite high maintenance as they are difficult to clean and frequently need to be replaced. Smart glass and film are cleaned just like regular glass and can be cleaned as frequently as needed, decreasing the transmission of pathogens and minimizing dust and allergens. Smart glass can further be enhanced with antimicrobial coatings. Our switchable glass products have been used in a wide variety of medical settings from hospital wards to private clinics, senior care centres and dental offices.
Modern office environments must provide more than deskspace to help businesses attract and retain talent while increasing productivity. Access to natural light and views is one of the most desired office features. However, increasing the amount of glazing in offices can decrease privacy and lead to too much glare from sunlight and heat gain. Smart glass windows, walls, doors and partitions are the perfect way to design offices that balance openness with privacy. Smart glass also decreases heat gain and cuts the glare from sunlight when switched to frosted while still allowing two thirds of natural light to pass through.
Hoteliers are always looking to incorporate the latest technologies into their designs to stand out from the competition and deliver superior guest experiences. Smart glass instantly modernizes any hotel room and hotel lobby. Adding switchable glass partitions between hotel bedrooms and bathrooms makes rooms look bigger and brighter. It also impresses guests and makes them feel more comfortable.
Smart glass is an important emerging technology that every architect should be aware of when creating more modern, high end designs. Ordering smart glass is easy, simply send us your project details, measurements of the glass areas in question and a picture of the area or elevation drawings (not necessary, but this will help us make the best recommendations possible). Contact Smart Privacy Glass to learn more about switchable glass and film and how they can be used in your upcoming architectural projects.