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Switchable privacy glass (or smart glass) partitioning and screens have become increasingly popular in commercial spaces, offices, high-end apartments and homes. This is especially the case where occupants are looking for a versatile transparent, open space that at the flick of a switch can offer total privacy. It also has the "wow" factor if you are looking to impress clients! 


What is switchable smart glass? 

Smart glass is also known as privacy glass, switchable glass and switchable privacy glass. It is essentially a film of liquid crystal sealed between two panes of glass to form one sheet of glass. Once installed, a privacy glass wall or partition can change from opaque to clear with the flick of a switch.


How does privacy smart glass work? 

When an electric current passes through the liquid crystal film, a glass panel appears transparent (this is because the molecules in the film align, letting light flow through). This is the "on" state. When there is no current, the film is in its "off" or privacy state. A glass panel will appear opaque due to the molecules in the film being randomly positioned, stopping light from flowing through (see images below).



Smart Glass Bathroom Door Opaque


Switchable SmartGlass in the "Off" or privacy state (image by SmartGlass International).

Smart Glass Room Door Clear


Switchable SmartGlass in the "On" state appears clear (image by SmartGlass International).

Where can smart glass partitions be used?


In terms of application, privacy glass partitioning is versatile and can be used internally, like most other glass types in both residential and commercial buildings. It offers transparency and privacy at the flick of a switch, it is ideal for letting light flow or where space is limited.


Here are a few examples of where smart glass can be used:

  • Boardrooms and offices (offering privacy for sensitive meetings)

  • Hospital waiting areas, treatment rooms and operating theatres (helping eliminate the use of curtains which can play a role in the spread of germs in hospitals)

  • Exhibition display rooms

  • Reception areas

  • Hotel rooms (offering bathroom privacy without limiting the flow of light)

  • Homes and apartments (creating soft divisions between rooms)

  • Facades where the interiors spaces on occasion require privacy from the public (see example below)

  • Most types of glass doors (including doors on rails and hinged doors)




SmartGlass used on street facing facade (images by SmartGlass International).



Are switchable glass screens expensive?


Privacy smart glass is considerably more costly than other common glass types. This is due to the internal liquid crystal film and the lamination complexities during the production process. Risks of damage during transportation, carriage to the site and installation mean additional steps and extra care must be taken, this can significantly increase costs as well.  That is why we recommend you buy from a quality switchable smart glass supplier such as SmartGlass International and you use an approved glass partition installation team like Prism Glass.


SmartGlass International are market leaders with the knowledge, experience and reputation in manufacturing switchable smart glass, and currently, supply glass to over 35 countries across six continents. Prism Glass has extensive experience in installing smart glass screens and are approved by SmartGlass International to install their products here in the UK.


What do you need to know?

A switchable privacy glass panel is composed of an internal film of liquid crystal held between two sheets of glass laminated together. That means there will be a small clear border around the edges of the panels and the film will not go to the very edges of the glass.


There will always be an element of haze or milkiness within the smart glass panels when in clear mode. The "milkiness" (hazy white effect) is less visible when looking at a glass panel "straight on", and more "milky" when viewing the glass at an angle. Thus you may want to design your space accordingly and ensure that the smart Glass panel is mostly viewed "straight on" (and not viewed from the side while walking down a tight passageway, for example).


Always request to see a sample of the glass that will be installed.




Curved privacy smart glass and doors used in an office exhibition room

Installing switchable smart glass partitioning

Once you have decided on where you would like to use smart glass, you should request a site survey (see more information about site surveys here). Go through specifications and any questions you have with a reputable supplier or glass installation team. Following this, they should be able to provide you with a quote. As mentioned before, always request to see a sample of the glass to be installed before agreeing to proceed.


It is essential you obtain a quality product when buying privacy smart glass for your home or office, and use an experienced installation team. Prism Glass will be able to talk you through your glass installation project needs, the installation process and answer any questions or concerns you may have. They can provide SmartGlass International approved materials, advise you on-site preparation and any HSE concerns. 


For enquiries, estimates or if you would like to discuss your project contact us today, or call 0208 947 8428 (office hours are Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm)

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Prism Glass Ltd are approved fitters for SmartGlass International.

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