Volume 42, Issue 11 - November 2007

Issue @ Hand
Nobody’s Talking
To get into the room, you had to pass a guard and two sets of doors. You were required to be badged, of course, with your identity long before verified by the front office. A picture ID was checked again before you were permitted into the dark 400-square-foot room at the end of the hall. 

The dank room was furnished sparsely with just one draped table in the middle. On the table were two different stations, each with a working TV, radio, ham radio and an instrument that looked like a CB. Behind the stations were two large six-sided boxes. Five of the sides were made out of glass. The sixth was open.

Toward the back of the room was a control booth with a heavily tinted window that shielded a lot of instruments and pieces of equipments. 


While these security measures do not seem too unusual today, they were at the time I was subjected to them in the early 1980s. And the room was not in an airport, but rather at Pilkington’s Research Centre in the United Kingdom.

“What you are about to see is something we have been working on for a number of years,” said our host, whose name was never given. “It is still in development.”

He went on to explain that many different types of energy, in the form of waves, pass through the air and that these waves send signals to radios and televisions and many other items. He said that one day, too, we would even have cordless phones that you could carry with you and computers that would be as small as the radio on the table.

He then turned on all the electronic devices in the room—the TV, the radio, the others I couldn’t quite identify—and covered each one with the glass box. When an item was covered by the box on the left, nothing happened; the items kept playing. But when we covered an item with the box on the right, the item appeared to turn itself off.

“No, that’s not what’s happening,” he answered when someone asked if the electronics had indeed turned themselves off. “The signals, the waves being sent to the items are not able to penetrate this special kind of glass,” he explained. 

“This will be very important in security, in keeping people from eavesdropping or from stealing information in the future. But it’s still a secret for today.” Fast-forward 20 years later and this type of electronic security glazing is no longer a secret, but it’s also not the type of thing the glass manufacturers discuss. It is used mainly in high-security governmental buildings, and in embassies, military installations and gaming halls. What I saw 20 years ago is now commonplace.

Contributing editor Drew Vass spent quite a bit of time exploring electronic security glazing for this issue. His article appears on page 34. You’ll notice that most of the article talks about the developments the window film industry has made in electronic security films. That’s because, even 20 years later, nobody on the glass side is talking.


One of the happiest of holidays is this month. Though merchants try, Thanksgiving hasn’t yet been over-commercialized and remains true to roots of thanks and generosity. We at USGlass are very thankful for you, our readers and our advertisers. Your stories continue to inspire us to do all that we can for the glass industry. Happy Thanksgiving.

Regards, Deb

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.