Technology is helping us smarter life. Our phones, cars, and even the present generation have become smarter. With technological advancements, concerns about natural habitats have also increased. Due to urbanization, we have slowly started to live in a congested environment and when we live in such a surrounding, we need to transform our buildings and their parts and also make our habitat smart. So, have you made your home smart? How can a building or house look more appealing than the normal ones? How can we allow natural light to reach us? These are frequent questions that a normal person may ask. Well, this is where Smart Glass comes in handy! So, let’s learn about what is smart glass and smart glass for home.
What Is A Smart Glass?
A smart glass, commonly known as a light control glass, privacy glass, smart tint, tin table glass, dynamic glass, or even a switchable smart glass, assists in controlling all forms of light, i.e. infrared, ultraviolet and visible light. There are many benefits of smart glass windows. In simpler terms, smart glass alters the amount of light passing through transparent materials, allowing them to appear transparent, opaque or translucent.
Smart glass is dynamic, which allows a traditional static material, in this case, glass, to become alive, and multifunctional. Smart glass resolves various conflicts over designs on how to allow natural light to reach open floor plans to conserve energy and, at the same time, provide privacy.
‘Justin Ford’ says, (author of an article – 3 Ways Smart Glass is Enhancing Home Automation. Published on gauzy.com) Smart glass is a really great feature to eliminate waiting for shades and giving the smart home vibe instantly.
From windows to partitions, smart glass can be integrated over various transparent surfaces in numerous sectors, like automotive, architectural, product design industries, smart retail windows, interior design and consumer electronics.
Types of Smart Glass
Smart glass can be categorized as active or passive depending upon its type of activation.
Smart glass is said to be active if it gets activated due to an electrical charge. After activation, the smart glass can change its appearance and functions.
If the smart glass does not get active, it is referred to as passive. However, they will act as smart glass, but not as efficiently as an active smart glass.
Applications of Active Smart Glass
- Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal (PDLC) glass can be seen in various privacy compartments, prohibiting light from passing and behaving as opaque. Privacy smart glass is also used for partitioning rooms, conference halls and office cabins. They are widely used in marriage halls as curtains to enhance aesthetics.
- Suspended Particle Device (SPD) glass can be seen in the making of tint window shades in numerous automotive buildings.
- Electrochromic (EC) glass is a coated window that tints to provide shade.
Applications of Passive Smart Glass
- Photochromic smart glass is used in sunglasses that tint automatically in sunlight.
- Thermochromics smart glass is used as windows that tint due to change in temperature.
How Does a Smart Glass Work?
The working of smart glass window technology is quite easy to understand. An active smart glass turns transparent from opaque, allowing all forms of light to pass through and controlling the light dynamically after the electricity is passed through. After switching on the electricity, the unique molecules inside the active smart glass align, allowing the light to pass for transparency or opacity.
The film interlayer present inside PDLC or SPD smart glass is either retrofitted or laminated onto the glass. This film interlayer is made with SPD emulsion or PDLC formulation coated between two sheets of transparent materials. When the electricity is pass-through this interlayer, the molecules align themselves, resulting in transparency.
The ability to change the transparency of glass through polarisation (a uniform lining) of the particles inside these interlayer is one key role of these two technologies. When there is no electricity, these particles scatter randomly and do not allow light to pass through them. As a result, the transparent glass now becomes opaque. However, electrochromic glass, an active smart glass, never becomes opaque. Moreover, a dimming effect can be obtained if the amount of electricity to pass through these interlayers is controlled. Know the advantages of smart homes on,
In contrast, passive smart glass becomes clear when no electricity passes through it. Controllers, transformers or power supply regulators are used to control electricity passing through the smart glass.
How to Apply a Smart Glass?
Many raise the question of how to apply the smart glass? Well, the answer is as simple as the question. Smart glass is fitted like a normal glass inside any building. However, they can be applied specifically in two ways:
1. Lamination of Films and Coatings Between Glass Panes
PDLC and SPD laminated smart glasses are durable and can withstand excessive cleaning, humidity, temperature and high volume use. These are ideal for renovation purposes, which require the replacement of glass and new construction projects.
The production of laminated glass panes takes about four weeks, depending upon the supplier. A sheet of SPD or PDLC is used during lamination to seal the two glass panes after being cut using a glass fabricator. Later, a glazier or an installation man installs the glass panes like a normal window pane. Finally, the electrician connects the power supply to the glass pane and completes the installation.
The duration of the entire procedure depends upon the availability of various persons who can do the installation on time.
2. Retrofitting Film into Existing Windows
A professional installer installs the retrofit PDLC smart glass. A dry or wet adhesive is used to install the smart glass pane. However, the wet adhesive is easier to use and adjust. Retrofitting is a helpful technique where the glass needs to be thinner than the original double glass pane or at places where glass cannot be replaced.
Applications of Smart Glass
Smart glasses have become a trend these days. Everyone, especially in commercial buildings, smart glass windows are in awe of this smart glass technology. Here are a few sectors where switchable glass is used extensively:
1. To Enhance The Aesthetics Of Commercial Buildings And Hospitals
Normal glass panes have been replaced by switchable glass, making commercial buildings look classier. Smart glass is tremendously used in buildings with open floor plan to capture more light and conserve energy.
Moreover, they are used as partitions in hospitals in common wards and ICUs and to isolate sound and create confidential and contamination-free rooms.
‘Aiswebapp’ advising that, (author of an article – Different Ways on how Smart Glass Design has Changed Architecture. Published on aisglass.com) Smart glass is also easier to clean and a more hygienic option than blinds or curtains. This helps in providing better protection against infection to neighbouring patients and healthcare personnel.
2. To Give an Elegant Look to the Offices
Smart glasses are becoming very common in office buildings. Electrically controlled smart glass doors and windows gives a WOW look to the interiors of the offices. According to the need, they can easily transform from transparent to opaque, become private to public, and provide a dimming effect.
3. Invite Audience in Retail Shops
Smart glasses are used broadly in retail shop facades for advertising purposes. They control the temperature, which makes the interiors of retail shops cooler during extreme weather conditions. As a result, energy is conserved, and electricity consumption is reduced.
4. Give a Stunning Look to Your Boring House
Are you bored of the same normal bathrooms and rooms? Are you tired of looking at the boring windows of your houses? Well, then it is time to switch over to smart glass. Switchable glass gives an ornamental shine to the house by letting the natural light inside. They are used in bathrooms for privacy and partition to avoid using curtains and blinds. Here is the list of,
5. Add Light to the Shine of Cars in Automobile Showrooms
Smart glasses reflect visuals, promotional content, and effects in automobile showrooms. As a result, it adds an artistic effect to both the interior and exterior of the building. The dimming effect is used at night to give an extraordinary look to the showroom from outside.
Which Smart Glass is Best Suited for My Home and Why?
Nowadays, smart glass is being widely used in residential buildings and homes. The most common places where the switchable glass is used are partitioning rooms to make private bathrooms, doors and rooftop windows. Are you still confused about which smart glass to purchase and where to apply? Then, here is the solution for your query:
Since SPD and PDLC are less energy-consuming and can control solar light efficiently, these are applied to reduce Infra-Red light reaching our homes and provide shade by keeping our homes cool and allowing natural light to come inside.
They are also used in exterior windows that face neighbours or streets for privacy without putting curtains. As a result, natural light will also come, and privacy will also be maintained.
One can decide the type of smart glass according to the purpose of use. SPD and PDLC are fit for interiors, whereas SPD, EC, and outdoor PDLC are suitable for exteriors. Therefore, choose wisely which smart glass to use in your homes and why.
Now that you have known everything about smart glass, don’t you want yo know how much does a smart glass film cost? Here is the answer – generally it ranges from 1500 to 1900/- per square feet. It is the same for smart glass windows residential cost as well.
No one would have that thought smart glass can reach everyone’s houses. The use of smart glass began in the early 2000s. Until a decade, they were unknown to many, but now, smart glass technologies are increasing catching up in several sectors, such as interior design, automotive, architecture, and construction.
Different smart glasses are used for various purposes. Here is a summary of smart glass, the reason for use and the place where it can be used efficiently:
|Type of Smart Glass||Reason for Usage||Adequate Place to Fit in|
|PDLC (indoor)||Quick transitions from transparent to opaque and vice versa; offers privacy without any light blockage||In buildings, homes, where partition is necessary; for privacy partitions; transparent displays|
|PDLC (outdoor)||Efficient in controlling solar variations (IR radiations); quick transitions improve the ratings of green buildings; does not block light||Indoor glass walls; exterior windows; building façade; interior privacy partitions|
|SPD||Quick transitions; blocks up to 99% light; creates tinting windows for shade; allows light when transparent||Windows of cars, aeronautical vehicles, trains; façade of skylights; TV studios; art galleries where sun can damage the work; ultrasound room galleries|
|EC||Slow transitions; blocks light||Façade of small and light windows; places where instant shade is needed|
One can figure out, that the boom in smart glass is due to the growing concept of sustainable energy and making green buildings. Switchable glass conserves energy and contributes to a green building and a greener surrounding. They are mostly used at places where the transition of light is needed extensively. Get more information for green & sustainable home read,
Due to its greater accessibility and increased use in exteriors and interiors of buildings, smart glass is becoming a standard for controlling light, a product for a flexible open-space design, and a design concept that provides an aesthetic appearance to the buildings and architecture.
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Priyanka Omar – I am a writer who loves to read and scribble, is passionate about the environment, and keeps every update about the latest technologies in the construction field.