Adding ambient light isn't just for creating a mood; used around a computer or TV screen, the indirect lighting eases eye strain after long hours. Ambient lighting also adds another layer of experience while watching movies, especially if the lights correspond to the images on the display itself. Philips HDTVs have their Ambilight, but they're equally useful when toiling behind a keyboard. And of course the DIY-hack community has turned to the popular IKEA DIODER LED strip for a homebrewed solution.
We've mentioned how to get your own DIY Ambilight system before, but there seem to be more and more options popping up all over the place. It makes a lot of sense, since these types of lighting hacks will reduce backlight bleed and eyestrain. This is an optimal system if you spend a lot of time in front of your computer, and makes it quite enjoyable to watch movies on workstation as well.
This hack involves modifying an IKEA DIODER LED strip. You'll have to replace the built-in micro-controller with another one that supports USB. Once that's done, you have to use some open-source software to control the lights form your computer. Sounds easy, but if this isn't your cup of tea, we suggest that you try the Mad Catz AmBX Cyborg Gaming Lights. They retail for $99.99, so it's an easy way of fixing your problem.
If you're looking for a hack for your HDTV, there's Amblone. It's similar to some of the other DIY Ambilight hacks we talked about and it will only work if your PC is connected to your HDTV. You won't need to fiddle around with it. You'll need an Arduino to made Amblone work. The completed instructions can be downloaded as a RAR archive here.
This hack was made for a PC running Ubuntu and hasn't been tested with Windows or OS X computers. An Atmel at90usb162 micro-controller was used to replace the one on the Dioder LED light strip. You'll also need to create your own printed circuit board. The whole process, including the software you'll need, is detailed at Rikard Lindström's site.