Friday 29th May, 2020
As we continue to live through extraordinary times, we take a look at an extraordinary glass product in Tufwell’s extensive range: smart glass. Smart glass, also known as switchable glass, allows for the control of light transmission - including visible light, ultraviolet and infrared – to change the appearance of glass from transparent to translucent and vice versa.
Electrically operated liquid crystal glass (LCD) is one of the most used smart glass technologies. This specialist glass is a laminate consisting of at least two sheets of clear glass and an LCD film sandwiched between at least two plastic interlays. The system is powered by uniformly distributed transformers – the quantity depending on the area of glass covered. When in the ON position the glass is transparent, and when switched to OFF, the glass defaults to opaque, affording privacy without sacrificing light.
Smart glass products have multiple functions in domestic and commercial settings.
In office spaces, smart glass can resolve the tension between design and functional requirements, balancing the benefits of natural light and open floor layout with the need for privacy and energy conservation. Smart glass partitions can maximise the space of a modern office, transforming it from open and shared to private and insular at the flick of a switch.
In retail, smart glass allows companies to maximise the use of storefront windows. With seasonal window displays still serving as a customer attraction, smart glass windows can be tinted whilst stores work on displays, allowing a big reveal once finished when the glass reverts to a transparent setting. A retailer’s window can also become a rear-projection screen, advertising changing product lines with ease in a more responsive way than traditional signage such as stickers that take time to produce and install.
Smart glass is also increasingly used in the hospitality sector, most commonly for hotel bathrooms or in spa environments, where square footage may be limited and privacy is paramount.
Smart glass doors, windows and partitions are rising in popularity in residential settings, enabling homes to become more energy efficient. Smart glass windows can consistently and significantly reduce energy consumption, lowering cooling costs by managing glare in summer and heating costs by increasing natural light in winter. The use of smart glass on exterior windows and glass doors allows for privacy without the need for curtains or blinds.