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U.S. military contracts bulletproof, dimmable windows to protect VIPs

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The U.S. Department of Defense has contracted for the development of bullet-resistant windows that dim instantly with a touch of a button.

The U.S. Department of Defense has contracted for the development of bullet-resistant windows that dim instantly with a touch of a button.

GKN Aerospace was awarded the $425,000 contract in July by the VIP Protection subgroup of the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office. The challenge? To incorporate dimmable films with armored glass, offering visual and physical protection to VIPs traveling in armored vehicles.

Based in Redditch, U.K., the company will combine its bullet resistant glazing process with "suspended particle device" technology called SPD-SmartGlass, licensed to it by Research Frontiers.

GKN previously designed and produced the windows for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

SmartGlass also provides protection from heat, glare, and ultraviolet rays. It's already available for architectural and automotive applications.

"This new development will have its initial application in the global counterterrorism market for government VIP armored personnel vehicles but also has real value in the civilian VIP market," said William Fischer, GKN's vice president of technology, in a statement from March 2009. "These SmartShade windows will give a level of control, protection, and privacy for vehicle occupants not available until now."

Recent projects by the VIP Protection Subgroup include bulletproof cubicles; portable, air-conditioned rooms for VIPs to hold "sensitive discussions;" and canine body armor.

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Andrew Nusca

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Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure