How Virtual Windows Work

Still Image Virtual Windows

Faux windows can be made using posters, decals, paintings and murals, but a slightly more high-tech variety involves backlighting behind a nature scene printed onto a semi-transparent material. These virtual windows can be mounted or recessed into the wall, and are often surrounded by a window frame and overlaid with crossbars that simulate panes to complete the illusion that you are looking out a real window. Double-sided versions that can be viewed from two rooms and ceiling-mounted skylights are available, too.

Companies like Therapeutic Environmental SolutionS (TESS) and Joey Fischer's VisualTherapy custom build virtual skylights and windows specifically for the purpose of creating relaxing atmospheres in medical facilities, where the waiting areas and treatment rooms are often windowless and clinical in appearance. They give patients and other occupants something to look at besides bare walls or medical equipment in what can be a stressful environment.

Sky Factory makes several lines of virtual windows and skylights for homes or businesses, including medical clientele. Their static-image offerings consist of high-resolution transparent images and custom-built window and skylight frames lit by either T5 fluorescent backlighting or LED edge lighting for even illumination. They also offer image tiles that can be placed into standard ceiling grids and lit by ambient or custom front lighting.

The realistic images and lighting can give the illusion of a window at first glance, but with this variety, the scenery never changes unless you switch out the photo, which doesn't make for the most realistic window experience. In real life, clouds and birds move across the sky and leaves and other foliage flutter in the wind. Read on to find out about virtual windows that get a step closer to realism.