May 25, 2024

Ambient Lighting, From TV Lamps to Today

As you may be aware, TV lamps originated from a perceived need to diffuse the contrast between the brightness of the television screen and the comparative darkness of the surrounding environment. Concerns of permanent eye damage were taken quite seriously, and industry stepped up to tackle this modern problem. The solution would come in the form of ambient (surrounding) light, heralded as the savior of eyes everywhere. Such illumination was provided for home use by TV lamps, which just happened to have the additional benefit of being an attractive (sometimes) supplement to modern decor. Always looking for a leg-up in the technology wars, the television manufacturers were sure to tackle the eyestrain issue themselves.
And so it went, as the 1950s saw the advent of the Sylvania Halo Light television. This nifty bit of ingenuity consisted of a fluorescent bulb that cast a “halo” of light around the screen, surrounding the picture with ambient light. Sounding somehow familiar, this technology was called “Surround Lighting”. The Halo Light ads, usually featuring a lovely lass in a golden dress, made it clear that this new discovery was a must-have: “You’ll see the difference instantly! Pictures framed in exciting HALOLIGHT appear larger, sharper and clearer!” While Sylvania’s creation was relatively short-lived, a similar idea surfaced in 2004 with the release of Philips “Ambilight”. The Ambilight television puts a different spin on the “Halo Light” idea, and is actually closer in spirit to the original purpose of the TV lamp. By projecting a glow of light on the wall directly behind the screen it is intended to “improve the viewing experience”. I suppose that what we can gather from all this recycling of ideas is that creativity, even in the technological arena, always keeps one eye on the rear view mirror. Who knows, with a little luck we just might see glowing panthers prowling across television sets once again.