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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Polawindow  
  A window-sized polarizer filter that allows changes in light intensity and color.  

This device has a very sixties kind of name and function; it is like Polaroid sunglasses for your house.

Orne returned to his room to change for dinner, stopped at the polawindow, which he tuned to clear transmission. The quick darkness of these latitudes had pulled an ebony blanket over the landscape. Distant cityglow painted a short yellow horizon off to the left. An orange halo remained on the peaks where Marak's three moons would rise.
From The Godmakers, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Berkley Medallion in 1972
Additional resources -

Here's another quote:

...A polawindow looked out onto an oval swimming pool. The glass had been muted to dark blue. This imparted a moonlit appearance to the view outside.

Some buildings have glass that is designed to let a certain amount of light (and energy) enter the building. I don't know of any buildings that allow the adjustment of light entry.

Edwin Land founded the Polaroid Corporation and created one of the last century's great brands, the Polaroid Land Camera. Land invented the first commercial use for polarizing material in 1929.

Polarizing filters contain long molecules that allow the transverse electromagnetic waves of one direction to pass while absorbing the waves vibrating in the other direction. Here's a way to visualize how it works. Think of the slots in a picket fence. Now think of a tall wavy line drawn on a big piece of poster board. If you orient the poster board so it is parallel with the slots in the picket fence, the "light wave" can go through. If you orient the poster board so it is parallel with the ground, the "light wave" cannot go through the slots.

Polarizing material is like a picket fence to light waves; only some of the light can pass through. That's how your polaroid sunglasses work; they filter incident light.

In his 1954 novel The Houses of Iszm, Jack Vance references polarization directly:

Farr polarized the window and light died from the room. He set the wall clock to call him at noon, sank into bed, and fell asleep.

The window depolarized, and daylight entered the room. Farr awoke, sat up in bed, and reached for a menu.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Godmakers
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to The Godmakers
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank Herbert

Polawindow-related news articles:
  - Micro Reactor Systems Creates Frank Herbert's Polawindows
  - Smart Window Goes Clear Or Opaque In Seconds
  - Smart Window Tints, Powers Itself
  - Electrochromic FIlm For Smart Windows
  - Cost Effective Smart Windows To Replace Curtains?

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