Airport Smart Glass Proves a Boon For The Photosensitive 4/25/2018, by Kaiter Enless

Ah, the sun, great tyrant of the sky! Center of our little segment of the galaxy and also, the center of our time. Along mythological lines there are few more venerated natural objects than our sun, which has, since neolithic times, been associated with various deities, such as the Egyptian creator god, Atum (variously, Atem or Tem), the sun god, Ra and later, Ra-Atem, and is almost invariably seen as protector, guardian and giver of life. It is obvious as to why, without adequate sunlight, human life would be significantly degraded as homo-sapiens require sunlight to properly synthesize vitamin D, a sufficient lack of which heightens one’s chance of depression (brought on by a lack of hormone serotonin in the brain). Additionally, absence of sunlight for prolonged periods of time will cause desynchronization one’s circadian rhythm which will in turn cause bouts of insomnia; the list could go on for sometime.

‘The winged sun’ an ancient (3rd millennium BC) sigil associated with the Egyptian deity, Horus. Later it came to be identified with the sun god, Ra.

Yet, too much sunlight exposure also creates its own series of problems, the first and foremost is sunburn, other side effects include, melanoma, actinic karatoses, skin aging (wrinkling), cataracts and eye damage and various immune system complications. All of these problems are compounded with those who are photosensitive or epileptic; even for those who are not particularly over-sensitive to sunlight, too might just irks the system and blinds the eyes. Sunglasses and sunscreen are obvious countermeasures to this problem but cannot cover the entire body are thus only stop-gap measures to total sunlight control. That is where smart glass technology comes in.

Smart glass (not to be confused with Intel‘s failed, cyber-integration and holographic head-wear, Vaunt), variously referred to as “switchable-glass” or “smart windows,” is any glazing cover that modulates its properties in the presence of heat, light and voltage such that its translucence adjusts to temper certain wavelengths which prove uncomfortable or harmful to humans. In the modern urban sprawl, which is constituted principally of steel, concrete and veritable oceans of glass, smart window technologies are key to aesthetic future development.

Opaque to translucent; switchable smart glass modulation.

Due to the inherent utility of the product, more and more companies are turning to the technology, such as Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport which, in 2017 installed View Dynamic Glass in one of its numerous gateways, designated A28, and also installed the glass in one of its restaurant-bars. As a result of the cooling effects of the glass (which is expressly designed to modulate against overheating) alcohol sales at the airport bar skyrocketed, rising 80% since the previous year (when no smart glass was present). Alcohol sales constituted a mere 9% of the airports total revenue in 2016 but jumped to constitute 17% in 2017 (after the smart glass was installed), a 8 percent increase. The reasons for this revenue jump is that a bar is a place which people congregate to for the express purpose of relaxation and socialization, both relaxation and pleasing socialization become difficult in glaring direct sunlight which is then reflected off of various bottles and glasses; the heat of the space is also a factor which would lead to discomfort as the bars powerful lights, when coupled with a buzzing jumble of impatient human bodies and sunlight, creates high levels of heat. Both the intensity of heat and light are, however, easily tempered by View Dynamic Glass installation and people spending longer time in the bar and the longer one spends time in a bar the more likely it is that they will purchase alcohol and the more likely that they will fall into conversation with others which further increases the likelihood of ware-acquisition which is extremely important to airports which now have to compete against the ride of ride-sharing services (Uber isn’t the only ride-sharing service around, there are airplane riding sharing services as well).

The airports successful utilization of smart glass technology heralds a future cityscape wherein the wavelengths of all of our enclosures are entirely under our control. This is extremely promising, not just because of the obvious practical health benefits (less seizures from photo-exposure, lower levels of skin cancer, glare, etc) but also for the various different aesthetic opportunities afford by such installations; for the luddites and doomsayers would have us all believe that the world of tomorrow (which is almost invariably yesterday) is one of grey and unceasing uniformity, a bland sprawl of endless artistic decay – what a different picture here is painted in the mind by a building which is able to, on the whim of its owner, change from opaque to translucent and from white to blue or red to green and back!


Kaiter Enless is a NMC columnist, fiction writer and the founder and administrator of TLC.

You can follow him online here.