Dynamic Ambient Lighting for Mobile Devices

Dynamic Ambient Lighting for Mobile Devices is part of my Diploma (Master) thesis.

Visualization (Public Transportation Locater)

In this example application, a user looks at the map at pedestrian zoom level and tries to find off-screen public transportation stations around him/her. Using the ambient light, the user can immediately picture his/her surroundings. Each light visulizes one or more stations in the direction of the light. The color and the intensity show the type and distance of the stations, respectively. This increases the space where relevant information can be shown by 1664%.

Interaction (Call Detector)

The Call Detector application demonstrates a simple but new way of interacting with ambient lighting. When a call is detected, a light aura is displayed, whose left half is green and the other red. The user can now place his hand or an object into the red or green area to reject or accept the phone call, respectively. When the user chooses to answer the call, the speakerphone is activated, allowing the user to talk handsfree.

Prototype Hardware

The prototype consists of a HTC Desire Android mobile phone and a silicon case, whose back is replaced by a custom PCB embedded with 40 RGB LEDs, 14 LED drivers, 2 proximity sensors, a microcontroller, a Bluetooth module and a voltage regulator. Communication between the phone and the hardware is implemented through Bluetooth, allowing the phone to control the LEDs at 60fps, while reading the sensors at 30fps. The hardware is powered by the phone’s battery and is very slim, only increasing the thickness of the device by 6.8mm.


  • The prototype has been presented on the UIST 2011: Download the paper.
  • The Video has been made available to the public on 21st July 2012.

Press Images

The following high resolution images are available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license. You can use them freely but you have to include a reference to “Qian Qin” and this webpage (http://qian.qin.berlin/dynamic-ambient-lighting-for-mobile-devices/).