Window shades can be either up or down. But a new material developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology may allow in just the right amount of light, without breaking the bank.

A team of MIT researchers can now predict exactly how much light slips through a particular rubbery material called polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) as it is stretched, potentially paving the way for cheaper smart windows that adjust the amount of light they let in:

Smart windows exist today, but they are usually higher-end, often made by slipping an adjustable crystal sheet between two glass panels.

Last year, MIT researchers pioneered a new kind of glass that adjusts its transparency in response to an electrical charge. While impressive, neither offers the kind of easy application that can turn smart windows from niche to mainstream.

We’re hoping a thin cover PDMS will soon be standard-issue, though they might want to rebrand first before hitting the market. PDMS sounds more like a medical emergency than a high-tech winner.

Photos via MIT