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What Is Privacy Glass & How Does It Work?

Windows have by and large remained the same for centuries, with the exception of the introduction of double glazing—but that’s all about to change. Privacy glass reimagines the windows of yesteryear, providing the ability to instantly transform a window from clear to frosted with a single click of a button.

However, given that the technology is still relatively unknown, here we’ll explore some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding privacy glass and how it works.

What is privacy glass?

Privacy glass, such as our Switchable Smart Glass, is a type of Smart Glass made with polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) technology.  PDLC is the most commonly used Smart Glass technology for providing privacy on demand, however you might be familiar with other smart technologies like electrochromic or thermochromic glass used primarily for reducing solar heat gain due to its grey tinted properties.

Privacy glass in its natural state blocks light from passing through appearing translucent but when a voltage is applied it’s state becomes transparent allowing light to flood through the glass.

How does privacy glass work?

Essentially, the glass is intricately and meticulously constructed using liquid crystals suspended in polymer between layers of glass, and a layer of indium tin oxide (ITO) that allows the PDLC to safely respond to an applied electric current.

Like an LCD screen, liquid crystals fundamentally change in how they interact with light in the presence of an electric charge, allowing light to be either present or obstructed, respectively. When applied in the context of privacy glass, without an applied current the PDLC molecules are condensed, blocking the light but with a current passing through the PDLC layer the molecules polarise changing the glass’s natural translucent or ‘milky white’ state to transparent.

switchable smart glass diagram film vs glass

How is privacy glass made?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here due to the incredible diversity in applications for privacy glass windows, but with over 15 years of experience in manufacturing our own range of patented switchable technology, we believe we’ve perfected the process.

As mentioned above, the core of privacy glass, the Switchable Film, consists of PDLC coated in a layer of ITO, allowing for the safe flow of electricity. The outer layers outside the core are then outfitted and coated with polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a protective enclosure that protects the film, while still maintaining optical transparency. Finally, to turn our smart film into smart glass, it is coated down onto a glass/plexiglass surface, or sometimes bonded between two layers of glass for extra durability and safety depending on the application.

What is Switchable Film

Are there different kinds of privacy glass?

There are indeed many different kinds of privacy glass. Although their functions are largely the same, their applications can vary greatly. For example, among others, you can choose from:

  • Toughened Single Glazed Switchable Smart Glass: Factory-coated using UV light, this is a great all-round option for those looking for cost-effective privacy glass or have a time sensitive project.
  • PPE Switchable Glass Safety Screen: Custom-made according to your precise specifications and exact requirements, our PPE Switchable Glass Safety Screen helps protect staff and employees against COVID-19—while also ensuring privacy as and when needed.
  • Laminated Switchable Smart Glass: Our laminated glass, ideal for high traffic areas in the home such as bathrooms, as well as for use in commercial settings, hospitals, and more. It combines safety and durability with a minimal, stylish appearance.
  • Black Tint Switchable Smart Glass: With no real blackout switchable glass technology in existence, our nearest to possible blackout effect smart glass provides a far darker switchable product than its standard counterpart.
  • Sound Insulating Acoustic Switchable Smart Glass: This is the all-in-one privacy option, ensuring that passers-by will be unable to both see in and to hear you.

If you want to find out about even more different types of privacy glass, visit our comprehensive Switchable Smart Glass page.

Where can I purchase privacy glass?

When in the market for a privacy glass product, you’ll want to ensure you purchase from a reliable company with a dedicated and consistent manufacturing process.

Manufacturing privacy glass is no small feat, and a well-made final product is as much an investment in a piece of art as it is a functional staple of your home or commercial space. Longevity from your investment is essential.

Here at Intelligent Glass, we’ve spent over 15 years manufacturing our own range of patented smart glass technology, we offer a wide array of smart glass and privacy glass products, providing an incredibly diverse catalogue of options sure to fit the design, budget, and purpose of whatever project you have in mind.


Where can I learn more about privacy glass?

If you want to find out more about the manufacturing process, gather design ideas, or see the product design in more detail, get in touch with one of our privacy glass experts today.

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