Smart Glass Technology
Smart Glass Technology has become a lucrative part of the healthcare industry as providers increasingly realize the role it can play in helping them provide better care. For the architects and developers involved in creating these new, high-tech healthcare spaces, this means keeping an eye out for various technologies that can increase patient comfort, save time and money for healthcare facilities, and allow providers to focus on taking care of what matters most. To that end, Glass Technologies recently asked if the switchable smart glass is the next innovation for healthcare technology.
One tool that can help enhance safety and privacy measures as well as speed up day-to-day operations is switchable smart glass. It contains a glaze called polymer dispersed liquid crystal, or PLDC, which relies on electrical currents to impact how the light is positioned. Using a switch or remote, the user can control whether the glass is translucent or nontransparent, to add a layer of privacy to a room as needed.
William Turcan, CEO of Smart Glass Technologies, a Miami-based smart glass manufacturer, said that, unlike regular glass, switchable glass helps control visibility while cutting down on maintenance costs. Healthcare providers can use his company’s PriWatt glass to increase privacy, comfort and convenience before and during an exam or procedure.
“The patient can go into a separate space to change their clothes and just click on a button to change a window’s transparency setting, and to indicate to the physician that they are ready for the exam,” Turcan said. “Additionally, because MRI machines can be noisy and cause a lot of vibrations, the switchable smart glass has material that helps to eliminate the excess noise and reduce vibration.”
Turcan said the PriWatt smart glass ensures “privacy on demand” through the lamination of PLDC crystals in the middle of two panels of low-iron, tempered glass. The glass is then connected to low voltage electricity, and the provider or patient can manipulate the settings within seconds of hitting on or off via the remote or wall switch.
He added that by eliminating the need for blinds and curtains, smart glass can be a more sanitary option, which should be a top priority for healthcare facilities.
“Curtains and blinds are hard to maintain because you need to take them off and wash them, and after some time they would need to be replaced, which adds extra work and cost for building owners,” Turcan said. “Since the PLDC crystals are protected by the glass, the smart glass can be switched off and cleaned just with alcohol. That way, it is always extremely hygienic.”
Building developers can install smart glass the way they would regular glass, Turcan said, with the only difference being that the electrician must be present.
“The electrician needs to make sure that the glazer is not damaging the wires when they’re installing the glass in the U channels, which is the system where the glass comes in,” Turcan said. “The electrician would then connect the glass to the transformer. Because the glass is working on low voltage electricity, at just 48 volts, if there is a case in which someone needs to get a wire out of the glass, it should be a safe process.”
Before developers get to work, they would need to discuss the locations where the wires should be placed with the healthcare facility, Turcan said. For this, Smart Glass Technologies can be on hand to provide instructions and support for developers should they need extra assistance during the installation process. Once installed, the glass is expected to have a life span of approximately 15 years.
Turcan said that Smart Glass Technologies’ focus on privacy is what makes their switchable smart glass a game-changer for the healthcare industry.
“Smart glass is something that will increase the value of real estate because it’s something new,” Turcan said. “We want to be experts in using smart glass for privacy.”