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Shining a Light on Innovation with Smart Glass

Shining a Light on Innovation with Smart Glass

Windows and doorsShining a Light on Innovation with Smart Glass

Now more than ever, windows are paramount features in the construction equation. In fact, due to innovative solutions, windows can control luminosity, regulate heat, prevent condensation, etc. All of this to, in the end, create modular spaces meeting specific requirements. 

In a nutshell, glass has witnessed considerable developments over the last few years. What was once a practical and aesthetic feature is now high-tech, innovative, and exciting. With the onset of new, cutting-edge glazing on the market, it’s a literal gateway into a new, fascinating realm.  

How does smart glass work?

Smart glass is a stunning glazing with characteristics and features that may be adjusted based on the consumer’s needs. 

With the use of various technologies, one can find the following different high-performance glass products on the market:

  • Photovoltaic

  • Thermochromic (for temperature control)

  • Electrochromic (for temperature control)

  • Photochromic (for radiation control)

  • Switchable (adjustable opacity)

  • Thermal (heating)

  • Self-cleaning

  • Photovoltaic (smart)

Smart glass yields a lot of advantages and functionalities, some intended for individual users, while others are more suited for commercial purposes. Such glazing allows one to fully benefit from the perks of natural light without enduring its disadvantages. It means benefiting from decent energy efficiency, while saving significantly and maximizing indoor comfort, whether at home or the office. 

Functioning and Characteristics of Dynamic Glazing

Dynamic glazing is a revolutionary technology with cutting-edge functionalities eclipsing traditional glazing. With ingenious properties and studied control mechanisms, it allows for modifying optical and functional characteristics according to environment-specific needs at any given time

The concept behind smart glass lies in its ability to change its appearance, colour, and transparency according to various parameters. For example, during a sweltering hot day, the glass pane can turn opaque, effectively reducing the amount of light seeping in and limiting air conditioning needs. 

Changing the Tint or Opacity

The concept is as straightforward as can be.

The more see-through a glass pane, the more natural light seeps in, and the more sun warms up the room. This configuration is perfect in wintertime.

The darker the glass pane, the more natural light is absorbed, preventing it from penetrating the glass. The same goes for the heat that comes with it. It’s the preferred configuration during summertime.  

So long blinds and shutters! By playing around with a glass pane’s opacity levels, one can attain optimal efficiency. 

As such, thermochromic glass liberates architects from a significant amount of thermal constraints. And, since its optical properties automatically change based on the temperature, the pane can switch from a clear to a tinted state (mirror-like), depending on the recorded temperature.


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Advantages for Optimal Comfort and Energy Efficiency

Smart glass has numerous remarkable advantages. It presents innovative solutions to meet both current and future needs.

Here are different advantages specific to certain smart glass types:

  • Enhanced quality and improved durability

  • Superior thermal and acoustic insulation

  • Reduced energy costs

  • On-demand opacity, shade- or curtain-free

  • Transforms solar energy into electricity

  • Less risk of glass panes breaking

  • Excellent wear-resistance and corrosion-proof

  • Heightened protection against harmful UV rays

  • Great value for money

  • Quick and easy installation

Smart glass, courtesy of its exceptional performance levels, is a part of the design and building industry revolutions

What’s opaque glass?

Smart glass is a unique solution used to partition rooms or office spaces, allowing to benefit from great lighting emanating from large windows and open-concept areas, while still achieving some sort of on-demand privacy, courtesy of the pane’s opaque feature. 

The whole concept of the frosted glass is brilliant!

It’s a liquid crystal film inserted between two glass panes. You can control, with a simple click of a button, the crystal alignment, frosting the glass surface. Within a few seconds, you can switch from a see-through glass to an opaque pane. Some solutions filter up to 99.5% of the light. 

Reversing the settings is nearly instantaneous, and its power consumption is very modest. The only hiccup stems from its still all too high price point for all to benefit from this technology.  

What’s active glass?

Active glass is a smart glass. If, at first glance, it just looks like standard glass, it transforms on demand to activate specific functions: opacity, amount of sunlight seeping in, heating, etc. 

The magic behind this innovation is that it can transform a window, picture window, glass partition or door, and glass flooring. 

Electrical Switchable Glass: Cutting-Edge Technology 

The most recent addition to the smart glass family is photovoltaic glazing, which produces electricity by converting solar energy. It can be battery- or grid-powered.

With its adjustable opacity, it can be used to manage light input. Despite its limited use, it’s deemed a significant innovation in terms of the Passive House (Passivhaus) design and construction industry. 

Practical Applications in the Glazing Industry

The technological breakthroughs that have led to the development of dynamic glazing can be, without a doubt, deemed revolutionary. In carpentry and architecture, it’s used to:

  • optimize thermal and acoustic insulation; 

  • swiftly adapt to changing weather; and

  • provide optimal comfort to dwellers.

Smart glass is also revolutionizing the automotive industry:

  • Enhanced visibility 

  • Better UV ray protection 

  • Heating function to defrost rearview mirrors 

  • Windshields with rain sensors

The latter facilitates a speedy response to hazardous road conditions with additional safety features.  

Smart glass is highly valued in the industry and by retailers since the previously mentioned advantages will significantly impact their functioning, much like the savings that can be made. Not to mention that smart glass can be programmed for public signage purposes, similar to advert campaigns. Interactive screens are a great way to effectively promote products or services, grabbing the attention of passers-by. 

Smart Window Manufacturers and Flagship Products 

Who are the primary manufacturers of smart glass?

Among the leading dynamic glazing manufacturers at the forefront of architectural innovations, you’ll come across the following.

Manufacturer Saint-Gobain with SAGEGLASS & EGLAS

SageGlass® has been a pioneering product in the realm of dynamic glazing for over 20 years and is now manufactured on an industrial scale. 

Not only are these windows retailed in various shapes, colours, and configurations, but can be comprised of different zones to feature a colour gradient, with energy savings of up to 20%. 

PRELCO with its PREL-SHADE Product 

This thermochromic glass has a colour-changing pane that darkens when intensely heated by the sun. In the evenings, or on cast-over days, light seeps through, heat too. It’s an intuitive—Suntuitive—glass that barely takes 30 minutes to reach its darkest of tints. 

It adapts to all supports and doesn’t need to be plugged in or recharged to function properly. It has an estimated 20-year service life. 

SUNCOOL DYNAMIC by PILKINGTON

It’s a thermochromic safety laminated glass. It adapts to varying levels of sunlight throughout the day or over seasons. The more direct and intense the sunlight, the darker the glass tints. 

What are the flagship products?

SageGlass® by Saint-Gobain

SageGlass® is manufactured by Saint-Gobain, the global leader in electrochromic glass, allowing for precision control of indoor environments. Its technology relies on a low electric voltage leading to a transfer of lithium ions from one glass layer to another.

It minimizes glares and rather bothersome reflections without obstructing the exterior view. Alongside its numerous advantages, SageGlass® tint-changing windows allow for a cozy and bright indoor environment, save on heating and cooling costs, and benefit from instant privacy without the need to shut blinds or curtains. 

It’s a top pick for many companies due to its high energy efficiency, ability to create modern workspaces, and overall comfort and aesthetics. 

EGLAS by Saint-Gobain

EGLAS combines heating, snow removal, and anti-condensation properties to effectively face the challenges of varying weather conditions. Its technology relies on the insertion of a heating film between two glass panes. Once activated by an electric current, it produces gentle and even heat to prevent ice build-up and condensation on the glass surface.

This type of innovative glass is ideal for verandas, high-humidity areas, greenhouse glass roofs, and small rooms. It ensures optimal thermal comfort and prevents condensation from forming on the glass surface by maintaining a temperature above the dew point. Made for safe, comfortable, and functional spaces, no matter the weather. 

PRIVA-LITE® Switchable Privacy Glass by Saint-Gobain 

This innovative glass pane has an on-demand privacy feature, switching from a clear to an opaque state to better meet user satisfaction and preferred needs.

This means you can create private and intimate spaces when needed, away from prying eyes, while still allowing natural sunlight to seep through. 

How much does smart glass cost?

Smart glass has plenty of benefits. In fact, it only has one downside: its high price point. For those of you who have been won over, you can find solace in the fact that it's a guaranteed investment that facilitates significant energy savings.

Vario Smart Glass: Yet Another Solution

Vario Privacy is smart glass that blends glazing and electronics to tint, in one push of a button, doors, windows, skylights, shower partitions, etc. This option is great for home theatres or a night owl’s bedroom and retails starting at $41.95 per square foot.

Various Ways to Use Smart Glass Efficiently

Smart glass was once solely used for airplanes and cars but is now increasingly employed in architecture to design stunning commercial and residential buildings. This innovative technology is also used in office spaces to project onto windows or provide the sought-after privacy in conference rooms. 

It’s ideal for indoor partitions, doors, windows, bathrooms, reception areas, conference rooms, etc. This type of glazing is especially valued due to its versatility and ability to instantaneously switch from a clear to an opaque state while maintaining its brightness.

The Future Is Brighter with Smart Glass

By shining a light on cutting-edge technology through smart glass systems, we're unlocking a realm of new and exciting possibilities. This material, with impressive properties, is transforming our living quarters and providing dynamic and energy-efficient functionalities. From smart windows to interactive surfaces, smart glass is at the heart of a tech revolution. It’s a prompt of what lies ahead, where smart glass is a catalyst for innovative designs and unprecedented architectural experiences. 


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Last modified 2023-12-20

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