Six Reasons Everyone Wants to Know About Installing Smart Film

January 31, 2023

Companies are embracing using smart film, also known as switch or switchable film, worldwide. For one thing, the aesthetics are impressive and for another, it offers instant privacy, which is attractive no matter what industry you work in.

Here’s a video showing the functionality of Smart Film in a conference room in NYC.

Smart film allows you to create instant privacy in a variety of settings, like in this NYC office

You can see the glass switching between frosted and clear with a remote.

In this post, we’ll offer the top six reasons you should install smart film in your office, and along the way, offer you a little background on the cost, technology, functionality, longevity, and maintenance of this product. In our mind, the top six reasons to install smart film are

  • Impressive technology,
  • Functionality across various industries,
  • A perfect option for retrofit,
  • The warranty,
  • Aesthetics,
  • Value vs. cost.

Of course there are more than six reasons, but we had to stop somewhere. If after reading our list, you have additional questions about smart film, you’re welcome to contact us at Layr. In any case, if you want to learn more about smart film, you’re in the right place!

Here are the top six reasons for installing smart film.

1: The technology is impressive

PDLC (Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal) film technology works through electricity. This film turns off via an electrical charge sent through the film. The charge is controlled through advanced controllers, which connect to the film through circuitry.

Smart glass works in a counterintuitive way. The crystals are randomly dispersed (scattered) when off, which makes the glass opaque. When an electrical signal is sent through the glass, the liquid crystals line up. This is the transparent function, when it is “on.”

So, off = opaque and on=clear.

Shtiever, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The controllers are where the magic happens. When installing smart glass, we adjust the controllers based on a few factors: the number of windows, the size of windows, and whether a customer wants them to have custom functionality. 

Say you want us to laser-cut logos or branding material into the film. We can program the controllers to have multiple settings, so for example, when you switch the film on, certain parts of the film will stay opaque and others will go clear. This can result in effects like blinds lifted halfway or a clear logo appearing within an opaque background. Many options are available, so just ask.

Smart film can be switched on and off a number of ways, including switches, remotes, or voice activation through Alexa or Siri.

2. Smart film works across various industries

Many industries have been excited to install using smart film, since it fulfills a number of essential functions and never fails to look cool. Our residential customers also reap the benefits of smart film.

Our most frequent customers are businesses that want smart film for their conference rooms or offices.

However, we’ve seen smart film work anywhere people are looking for customizable privacy:

  • Schools use smart film for conference rooms or classrooms that get too close to the street and might need some privacy.
  • Hospitals use them in rooms that switch from open to private, such as surgical crash doors or rooms to fill out intake forms. (Smart film is hypoallergenic and much more sanitary than curtains, by the way.)
  • Dentist offices use smart film to transform windows looking out to the street into rooms with completely confidential appointments.
  • Hotels can use smart film to modernize, especially for their luxury customers wanting a great view as well as privacy.
  • Residential customers can use them to function as blinds or curtains, or install in a bathroom to create instant privacy at the closing of a bathroom door.

3. A perfect retrofit option

Let’s say you need new windows. You might want a window with lots of functionality, something that keeps out UV rays and maybe something with more reflectivity or a privacy shield.

But actually, you don’t need to spend all your money on new windows. Window film might provide you with all the functionality you are looking for at a fraction of the cost.

No matter what, you’ll have to decide on what kind of glass or window film you are looking for. Here are a couple questions you can ask yourself to see if smart film might be the right product for you:

  • What kind of an impact you want to make on your visitors. Do you care about impressing them with aesthetics?
  • Does it matter to you to easily switch between a private and open space? If so, do you want to be fiddling around with shades or drapes to achieve that privacy?
  • Are you in a situation with glass partitions where you’d like to maintain the open feeling of the space, but people are often handling confidential information on their computers or on their desks?
Smart glass doesn’t always have to be new glass. We can retrofit smart film onto most windows. Photo by Maros Fecik on Unsplash

If you’ve answered yes to the above questions, smart film might be a good option to add onto your old windows. The price point may not be as high as you anticipate, especially when you take into account the cost of new building materials.

4. Smart film comes with a warranty

Smart film comes with a manufacturer’s warranty that usually falls between 2 to 5 years, depending on the manufacturer.

Smart film products have many moving pieces – the wiring, the film, the controllers – so the warranty is important for the investment. We tell clients that they can generally anticipate this film working for 10 years and work with them to install everything with all the functionality they are seeking.

A smart film controller works like a brain, receiving signals and translating them to make the glass “switch”. Always be sure this advanced technology comes with a warranty.

5. The aesthetic can’t be beat

Smart film impresses.

As mentioned, an electrical signal moving through the PDLC crystals switches the glass between opaque and clear. When switched off, the light coming in is diffuse. This allows you to cut out glare but maintain the natural light coming into a space. Smart film doesn’t have the same effect as darkening film.

When switched on, the tiny liquid crystals in the film align. This turns the glass clear. It’s important to mention, since you are looking through window film, smart film isn’t clear like single-paned glass and there will always be a bit of a haze. The haze is generally not noticeable when looking at it straight-on, but visible when viewed from an angle. This is totally normal and also impacted by the interior/exterior lighting conditions.

When working with clients, Layr provides samples and usually creates mockups to give clients a sense of how each completed project will perform.

6. Value vs cost

We’ll say it upfront: Smart film is the most expensive product that we install on a per square foot basis. It’s also true that smart film is the most complex product that often comes with the greatest benefits.

As with any window film installation, the cost of installing smart film is relative. Every project and job site is different, and since this is such a technical product, smart film requires a good deal of wiring. With clients, we estimate the cost of every installation based on size, complexity, wiring needs, and extra customization requests.

We offer all sorts of wiring solutions for different walls, doors, and looks, and collaborate with architects, contractors, and designers. Clearly, the price for the installation includes more than just the film.

Smart film usually costs between $75 to $125 per square foot, which includes a company like Layr furnishing and installing everything, including the controllers.

If that seems high, compare that price tag to the process of installing new OEM smart glass, which might cost about $500 per square foot, and that cost doesn’t include the process of removing old glass.

If you’ve read this far, you can probably see the value add that smart film provides to a myriad of clients.

Want to know more?

Smart film is a new amazing, technology that fills many of our clients’ needs in one swoop. All our customers who install it are impressed with the results. The price point is higher than many of our other window films, but then again, smart film’s functionality and aesthetic appeal can’t be overstated.

If you want to know more, contact us or visit our show room in Chelsea.