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
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