SMART GLASS: TRANSPARENCY & PRIVACY AT THE FLICK OF A SWITCH
Smart Glass has 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. Moreover, it certainly also has the "wow" factor if you are looking to impress clients! However, what exactly is Smart Glass, how does it work, where can you use it and is there anything you need to consider before choosing this product?
What is Smart Glass and how does it work?
Smart Glass (also known as Privacy Glass and Switchable Glass) is essentially a film of liquid crystal sealed between two panes of glass. When an electric current passes through the Smart Glass film the panel(s) 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, and the panel(s) appear opaque (the molecules in the film are no longer aligned and randomly position stopping light from flowing through) - see images below.
SmartGlass in the "Off" or privacy state appears opaque (image by SmartGlass International).
SmartGlass in the "On" state appears transparent (image by SmartGlass International).
Where can SmartGlass be used?
In terms of application, Smart Glass 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 (see West Wales case study by SmartGlass International)
Exhibition and display rooms
Hotel rooms offering bathroom privacy without limiting the light flow
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 doors (doors on rails and hinge doors)
SmartGlass used on street facing facade (images by SmartGlass International).
What do you need to know?
Due to the internal film, risks of damage and the complexities of the production process, this product is considerably more costly than other common glass types. So it is essential you buy from a quality Smart Glass supplier such as SmartGlass International and you use an approved installation team like Prism Glass.
SmartGlass International are market leaders with the knowledge, experience and reputation in manufacturing switchable SmartGlass, and currently supply glass to over 35 countries across six continents. Prism Glass have extensive knowledge of installing Smart Glass and are approved by SmartGlass International to install their products here in the UK.
Something else to remember, as Smart Glass is composed of a film of liquid crystal held between two sheets of glass laminated together, there will be a small clear border around the edges of the panels (the film will not go the very edges of the glass). Also, there will always be an element of haze or milkiness within the Smart Glass panels when in clear mode.
TIP: The "milkiness" (hazy white effect) is less visible when looking at the glass straight on, and more "milky" when viewing the glass at an angle. Thus you may want to design your space accordingly so that the Smart Glass 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
The next step
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 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 Smart Glass to be installed before agreeing to proceed.
It is essential you obtain a quality product when buying Smart Glass and use an experienced installation team. Prism Glass will be able to talk you through your project needs, the installation process and answer any questions or concerns you may have. They can provide SmartGlass International approved materials, advise on site preparation and any HSE concerns.
For any enquiries, estimates or if you would like to discuss your project contact us today, or call on 0208 947 8428 (office hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).
Prism Glass Ltd are approved fitters for SmartGlass International.