Could SPD-Smartglass Replace Shades?

The glass can automatically dim from clear to dark, and all levels in between.

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Photos courtesy of Innovative Glass Corp. Installation by Automated Life in Boca Raton, FL

Automated shading surely has its place in every Electronic House. However, one company is hoping you’ll ditch the shades in favor of something slightly more high-tech.

SPD-Smartglass, developed by Research Frontiers, is a type of “dynamic” glass that can automatically dim from clear to dark, and just about every level in between. So instead of having an extra element to clean or cover your windows, the technology is actually built right into the glass.

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The SPD stands for suspended particle device. Unlike LCD, this technology can be used as exterior glass, and can go dark (or be tuned) while still being transparent. According to Innovative Glass Corp.’s website, when the power is on, rod-shaped suspended particle molecules align, light passes though, and the panel clears. When it’s off, those same particle molecules can block up to 99.4 percent of the light.

This technology isn’t part of the future; it’s actually available today. Mercedes recently announced plans to include SPD-Smartglass into the panoramic sunroof of the 2012 SLK roadster, which will be available this spring. The Associated Press also plans to use the product as a backdrop for their five London studios.

It’s also available for use at home. Boasting control over both glare and solar heat, SPD-Smartglass can help homeowners control lighting, room temperature, and energy use. Also, a recent Cambridge University study says that, “In all states of transparency, the glass rejects over 99 percent of UV light transmission.”

It’s also pretty cool. Applications include sunroofs, media rooms, and more. SPD glass can be controlled through wall switches, sensors, timers, and a remote control. According to the company, adding SPD-Smartglass into the home starts around $2,000.

The glass installations featured here were done by Automated Life, Inc, in Boca Raton, FL.

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