Why you should care
Because now there’s more to watch than just the screen.
We pay a lot of attention to what’s onour TVs, but probably not to what’s going on behind them. Why should we when we already have access to the likes of high-quality sound, curved screensand other high-tech options? Well, there’s yet another new TV technology designed to dramatically enhance your next Game of Thronesviewing.
Lightpack is an ambient lighting system that you install behind your TV or monitor that lights up the wall with the same colors pictured on the screen. The idea: a more immersive experience and the illusion of a larger display. How? The system’s software computes the average color in areas of the screen you’re watching and then corresponds those colors to LED lights on the back of your TV. For example, an ocean documentary might inspire a swell of blue hues behind your set. Each Lightpack unit costs $89 and includes 10 LED light strips with an adhesive layer that attaches to your monitor. For TVs bigger than 52 inches, the company recommends using multiple units.
The ambient backlighting may be easier on the eyes, compensating for fluctuations between dark and bright scenes.
Developed in Russia and funded by a very successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign, Lightpack was created to bring a new experience to screen viewing, says the company’s project manager Christina Buivich. After overcoming some initial issues with compatibility, performance and stability, the device and its software has been improved thanks to customer feedback, she explains. Buivich enjoys watching Lightpack-enhanced movies with her kids. Their reaction? “Mummy, it’s awesome.”
This isn’t your typical home theater upgrade, which has clear upsides — and clear downsides. Lightpack is a little more complicated than plugging in something to the wall for a magical voilà. The display must also be connected to a computer or Android device that has Lightpack’s Prismatik software installed to configure the lights. So that’s the catch: You can have the Lightbox experience only while watching video through your computer. It won’t just work with your Xbox or cable box; you can’t flick on Dancing With the Stars and be immediately immersed in a light show.
It’s not all about pretty lights, though. There’s a potential health benefit here: Lightpack claims the ambient backlighting is easier on the eyes, helping to compensate for the fluctuations between dark and bright scenes, which normally cause the eye’s pupil to constantly adjust. Matching the brightness of the screen to the light of the room is often more comfortable for the eyes, explains Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow, associate professor at the Illinois College of Optometry. His “old-fashioned recommendation”? Just turn on a lamp in the room while the TV is on.
Clearly, you’re not going to wow your optometrist by buying these lights for your favorite screen, but you might just wow yourself — while working on your computer monitor or playing games — and your friends.