WORK IN PROGRESS
Ambilight, short for "ambient lighting", is originally a lighting system for televisions developed by Philips, however today it is used in reference to all types and brands of ambient lighting in the context where lighting is utilized to complement the light coming from your main display.
Ambilight creates light effects around the television that correspond to the video content, with claimed a more immerse viewing experience can be the result if done right. Ambilight is a lighting system that actively adjusts both brightness and color based upon picture content. Integrated into the television cabinet, ambilight technology is aimed to enable the viewer to see more picture detail, contrast and color while eliminating on-screen reflections.
Ambilight technology works by projecting light from the rear of the TV cabinet in a very wide range of colors, shades and intensities. Viewers can choose to have Ambilight follow the color and brightness of the programme content – automatically changing with the colors on the screen – or alternatively the light levels and color can be set to match the interior decor or mood in the room. When the television is not on, the unit becomes a lamp, capable of displaying dynamic light patterns.
Ambilight as a feature was first invented in 2002 by the Philips at the same research and development departments responsible for developing flat televisions. Philips investigated the application of LED in the home environment. This development resulted in a lighting system that displayed light according to a program (script) that has to be generated for all displayed video content, and which should be translated to the used lamp configuration. Movie directors could use a script to add special effects. The system was demonstrated using multiple light units, spread over the room. At first the wish was only to add (white) light units to the cabinet of the flat TV. These light units, lighting the wall around the TV, had to replace the table lamp often placed on top of the bulky CRT TVs. This development resulted in a TV lighting system (based on RGB LED) that reproduces the color and brightness of the content displayed on the TV screen. The concept does not require light-scripts, and is backwards compatible with existing video content. Introduction of this concept was less complicated because it only affects the TV itself. This concept was selected for the Philips Ambilight TVs that had its first retail launch in 2004.
2 Common types of ambient lighting
Since the availability of displays by Philips featuring their Ambilight, there has been interest in producing similar effects for displays other than Philips which have this built into their hardware. Most commonly these systems consists of LED lights placed behind the display that face either to the side or towards the back and the light is reflected back towards the user from the surfaces behind the display. There are also systems where individual bulbs can be linked into the system that can be made to respond to system events.
Simple systems may have lights that are all one color and cannot be changed or strings of lights that can be made to change color all together. More recent systems feature lights that can individually change color. These can be made to change in sync to the borders of the main display thereby 'extending' the light from the edges of the screen to the surfaces around and behind the display. Alternatively they can be made to respond to characteristic of the audio or music being played.
3.1 Bridge boards
Most implementations utilize a separate processing board between the HTPC and the lights in order to provide low level hardware access to drive the LED's. There are kits available to implement this as well.
LPXXXX, WS2801, WS2811/2 Strings of bulbs vs strips
4 Other useful hardware
5 Software for the Boards
6 HTPC Software
7 Kodi Addons and Plugins
Links to Addons and Plugins using Kodi's Addons API for homebrew DIY RGB LED Ambient lighting (Ambilight clone) client software such as Boblight.