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The 787's windows dim when electrical current is applied to a thin layer of gel between two pieces of glass. (Boeing photo)

Seeing all the coverage of Boeing’s 787 rollout for All Nippon Airways this weekend, one thing that stood out was just much how attention was paid to the windows of the new jetliner.

And with good reason: They’re noticeably larger than traditional airplane windows, and they have a unique dimming feature that can be controlled by pressing a button underneath.

After giving it a test, Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates reports that it will feel like playing with magic.

So how do the windows work? A thin layer of gel is sandwiched between two pieces of glass. Applying an electrical current to the gel causes a chemical reaction that changes its opacity. Electrodes are placed on the sides of the windows, out of view of the passengers.

The windows are also networked together, for centralized control by the flight attendants.

See this story from Boeing’s archives for more details on the windows, and a behind-the-scenes video.

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