Four affordable alternatives to smart glass | WindowArt

Smart glass, sometimes also referred to as switchable glass, is glass that can change from transparent to opaque whenever you want it to.

This is especially useful and popular in offices and corporate environments, because it allows you to make meeting rooms private at will. The spectacle of glass frosting over at someone’s command remains quite a novelty and because of this smart glass is thought to give offices and homes a touch of the ‘wow’ factor.

There are different smart glass technologies available, but unfortunately all of them come with a hefty price tag. Luckily, there are some affordable alternatives to smart glass that offer many of the same benefits.

1. Sandblasting

Sandblasting gives glass that classic frosted look. With sandblasting you can also create detailed and textured designs, transforming your glass into decorative features. Branding can also be done on sandblasted surfaces, which is great for offices and corporate settings. However, keep in mind that sandblasted branding is permanent, so should you move offices or change your logo, the glass will need to be replaced.

One drawback of opting for sandblasting is that the sandblasting usually needs to be done off site. This means that your glass will have to be removed, treated at the factory and then reinstalled. If you are getting your windows or skylights sandblasted, this poses obvious security risks. Alternatively, if the sandblasting can be done on site, you’ll have to put up with the noise and mess of the process. In a busy office, this can be disruptive and unsightly.

2. Blinds

Blinds are common features in most offices. When closed, most blinds offer complete privacy. Unfortunately, closed blinds also block out all natural light, making it necessary to use more artificial lighting. Blinds also visibly gather dust and grime, are fiddly to clean and tend to break or tangle easily. In addition, blinds are old-fashioned and won’t give your home or office a sleek, contemporary look the way smart glass does.

3. Shoji screens

Shoji screens – room dividers made of translucent paper or plastic stretched over wooden or bamboo lattice frames – are inspired by traditional Japanese architecture. They can be fixed or moveable, and are usually neatly stacked on one side when not in use. In the right setting, they are a beautiful and stylish way to partition off meeting rooms.

Shoji screens are very thin, however, and as such don’t block out sound the way glass does. For this reason, if you are going to be holding sensitive meetings and don’t want to be overheard, shoji screens might not be the best solution.

4. Frosted window vinyl

Window vinyl can be a great alternative to smart glass in your office or home, giving you the same frosted look achieved by smart glass at a fraction of the cost. Of course, frosted window vinyl doesn’t allow your glass to switch back and forth from clear to frosted the way that smart glass does. However, it is removable should you at some point wish to change the design or restore your glass to its original transparency.

Different levels of opacity are available, so you can pick a shade that meets your privacy requirements without sacrificing natural light. Frosted glass makes for a more open and collaborative feel in the workplace in comparison to blinds or shoji screens, which have a more solid appearance.

Window vinyl is quick and easy to apply on site. It can be cut to any design and can be used for branding on windows and meeting room walls. The classic frosted look that window vinyl gives you is sleek and elegant, so it’s perfect for offices and homes with a contemporary style. Unlike blinds, window film is very easy to keep clean and doesn’t have parts that can break or tangle.

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