Smart glass is an intelligently designed, technologically advanced, energy-saving and aesthetically appealing product, so it makes perfect sense that it is being used by architects and designers in increasingly creative and unique ways, especially as its technology becomes more sophisticated. It’s been a fixture in the automotive industry for use in rear and side-view mirrors, sunroofs and windshields, and has increasingly made its way into the built environment, in settings that include offices, hospitals, retail stores, hotels and homes.
Now we are seeing it used in such creative settings as public bathrooms, gyms and office pods. Because smart glass can replace regular glass in virtually any setting, and comes with numerous benefits, incorporating it into your next project is a surefire way to stay current environmentally, technologically, and style-wise. It will also help you be on trend for years to come with its future facing features.
In this article, we examine some of the more quirky and creative uses for smart glass.
Smart Glass Public Toilets
The first public toilet designed with privacy glass was installed in Lausanne, Switzerland almost twenty years ago. The designer Olivier Rambert created the first privacy glass public bathroom in 2002, with a second in 2015. When the toilet’s door was locked, the glass turned opaque. It also had a special safety feature: the door automatically opened and turned the glass transparent if its sensors detected no motion for 10 minutes. The 2002 version of the privacy glass public toilet won the RSA competition that same year. The 2015 reincarnation included 10 toilets in a row.
In anticipation of the 2020 Olympics, the Nippon Foundation launched the Tokyo Toilet project, which built 17 public restrooms made of switchable privacy glass in Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood. The most popular of the 17 different creations was designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban. The glass-enclosed toilets are transparent when not in use, providing a hygienic and safe feature for the hesitant public, because they allow users to see inside to inspect for cleanliness and to make sure no one is lurking there. Once the door is locked, they immediately become opaque. Located in a park in front of a cluster of trees, the array of public toilets lights up at night in a beautiful, lantern-like display of blue, green, yellow, orange and purple colors.
Smart Glass Office Pods
Defined as self-contained spaces that give individual workers a private, quiet area to concentrate on their tasks at hand, they often look like ultra-modern phone booths with glass walls, a ceiling, single or multi person seating and the technology to get work done. They are small, and often can be moved around, providing unique flexibility. Some pods are even designed for meetings, able to accommodate up to four people.
Here are a just a few advantages of the office pod:
- Fully-sealed and quiet
- Easy to install and move around
- Affordable (costing far less than a build-out)
- Streamlined and attractive
- Small footprint
- Hygienic and easy to clean
Perhaps best of all, office pods are usually made of glass, which makes them less claustrophobic and allows their occupants to look out at the rest of the team. In turn, those outside can see if the pod is occupied.
What makes more sense than an office pod made from privacy glass? Its ability to switch from transparent to opaque and back to transparent in a matter of seconds gives the user total privacy when needed, and the opportunity to be seen and look out when desired. Take a look at our article about the use of glass pods, “Office Interiors after Covid-19: Is Open Plan Over?” where we explore the changing structure of office floor plans and how pods equipped with smart glass meets the needs of building occupants.
Clestra Hauserman, a well-established manufacturer of partitions and other operable wall systems, has already begun to incorporate privacy glass into its reconfigurable modular pods, allowing users to control the glass with using either a manual ON/OFF switch in a power column, a remote control, or a mobile phone application.
Smart Glass Gym Pods
Gym pods, or workout pods, have begun to emerge in response to the pandemic. Some gyms have been installing glass-enclosed workout stations so that clients can work out in safety and comfort. For those unable to work out at home and need to go to the gym to maintain their health while remaining safe from disease, gym pods are a unique, attractive and hygienic solution. Users can keep their social distance and stay healthy thanks to this remarkable innovation. Privacy glass is an ingenious alternative to fabric curtains, which harbor germs and bacteria and are expensive and difficult to clean.
The company The Gym Pod produces fully-automated, 24-hour smart gym pods, each equipped with a 3-station set-up including a cardio station, dumbbell rack and strength station. Its newer models even include interaction screens for users to watch tutorials and workout virtually alongside fitness professionals. They have been installed in over 20 locations throughout Singapore that can be booked with a smart phone.
Gauzy is the proud supplier of its advanced Vizio LCG® Smart Glass for the Singapore gym pods, whose exterior can be transformed from static glass panels to dynamic privacy solutions as well as HD projection screens in a matter of seconds. The vision for the Gym Pod was to create an innovative, private yet convenient space to exercise and provide a way to access a healthy lifestyle, even in a city center.
The use of smart glass in the gym pod has helped create a light-filled workout space that is modern and sleek. Occupants can easily control their privacy by turning the glass from transparent to opaque in seconds, allowing for an unobstructed view of their surroundings when desired, and privacy when needed.
Additional benefits include the ability to use the gym pods, which are placed in public locations, as a projection screen for messages and advertisements, simply by touching a button to turn its static glass into a dynamic HD screen to showcase visual content and capture the attention of pedestrians. The glass is hygienic and easy to clean, making it possible to quickly sanitize it between uses.
The use of privacy glass is limited only by one’s imagination. Sleek, modern, energy-saving and hygienic, smart glass provides a myriad of solutions for a wide range of industries. Just imagine what may come next: elevators, medical devices, even refrigerators… the list goes on.
Article was written and originally published by Gauzy