When it comes to windows we usually want them to block the elements and hope that someone else will wash them. There are the usual choices of vinyl, wood and aluminum – double or triple pane – low “e” and gas filled when building new or considering replacements. But have you ever considered using better educated windows?
Commonly referred to as switchable privacy glass or “smart glass”, this high-tech solution dispenses with window blinds, shades or curtains and offers to block the view at the flip of a switch. Smart glass is composed of liquid crystal laminated between ITO (indium tin oxide) coated glass or plastic. Similar to your laptop screen, this sandwich of glass and liquid crystal is normally opaque but when you apply a voltage across the two glass surfaces it becomes transparent. Your computer screen has thousands of these little windows or pixels. Think of smart glass as one giant pixel. (Another fun fact is that ITO is a transparent metal – it conducts electricity like copper but you can see right through it)
These windows operate on standard outlet voltage and only use a few watts per square meter of glass. Installation isn’t difficult and yes it can be a bit pricy. But in the home it has potential for skylights, bathrooms and windows that face nosey neighbors. Even some cars are offering it in their sun roofs.
When your next renovation comes around, imagine what you can do with switchable glass.