Five Applications of Smart Glass Technology
Smart glass, also known as switchable or electric glass, provides privacy on demand. This “intelligent” glass transitions from opaque/translucent to transparent with a flick of a switch. The effect is achieved utilizing many different technologies; two of the most common are suspended particle devices (SPDs), and polymer dispersed liquid crystals (PDLCs). SPDs use particles suspended in fluid placed between layers of glass or plastic. These particles rest at random orientations, absorbing light and resulting in a dark, opaque surface. When an electrical current is introduced, the particles align and allow light to come through. In PDLC devices, liquid crystals are dissolved in a polymer, which is sandwiched between two layers of glass along with a layer of conductive material. The polymer solidifies, causing the liquid crystals inside to form droplets, which then scatter light and create a frosted, translucent appearance. When voltage is applied, the crystals align and the glass becomes transparent.
PDLC technology is used in numerous interior and exterior environments for optimum privacy and security. “Smart” windows and skylights allow users to adjust the amount and quality of light and heat entering their buildings, lowering heating and cooling costs as well as carbon emissions. When opaque, many switchable windows also block harmful UV rays, protecting expensive fabrics from fading. Smart privacy glass reduces the need for costly window coverings without sacrificing natural light.
Modern offices use electric glass as a clever design component. Meeting rooms, doors and cubicles constructed with smart glass partitions can create the illusion of an open-floor plan, but also be turned “off” or “on” as privacy needs dictate.
Smart glass has even found a home in the healthcare industry. Blinds and shades in hospital rooms can harbor bugs and dirt, are difficult to clean, and can compromise patients’ safety. Smart glass technology permits greater comfort and privacy control, faster healing, and better sanitization as the glass can be easily wiped down, reducing the risk of accidental contamination.
In its frosted state, PDLC glass doubles as a projection screen. This allows smart windows to display advertising inside and out, twenty-fours hours a day. Now the office itself can keep working even after you go home.
In the entertainment realm, smart glass turns windows into giant movie screens, and is used as a controllable, interactive background in television studios.
Eco-friendly and multifunctional almost beyond imagination, smart glass technology is indeed a window to the future.
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