Philips Research - Technologies

Ambilight - the new TV experience

The development of Ambilight is illustrative of how Philips incorporates users’ experiences into the creation of new products. It also shows how those experiences can run from the general to the very personal.

With Ambilight, for example, the fundamental user ‘experience’ applies to humans in general: We are natural-born peripheral viewers.

If, Philips researchers proposed, people naturally take in more than just the screen when they watch television, why not put that extra space to use?
Guided by that insight, Philips researchers developed prototypes and introduced them to small test groups – real, flesh-and-blood human beings. Some group members didn’t think they were going to like Ambilight, says Boris de Ruyter, scientist at Philips Research in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

“A few said, ‘I don’t want disco lights in my house,’” de Ruyter states when he discusses what the test persons told the scientists.

But once those doubters actually experienced Ambilight, most changed their opinion.“Winning them over showed us the difference between experiencing a system and just imaging it ," de Ruijter said.

Feedback from prototype users also helped researchers at Philips make sure that the lighting projected by an Ambilight television is soft and unobtrusive. Pleasurable enhancement, not unwelcome intrusion, became an even greater priority.

Ambilight designers also learned in the tests that users like to retain control over their gadgets. Therefore, Philips built into Ambilight six preset colours and white tones as well as custom settings, allowing for complete personalization of one’s Ambilight viewing experience.

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