Philips developes new ambient gaming device

The Inquirer published an interesting article today about a new step made by Philips in ambient awareness in computer games. It is the development of amBX:

From the Inquirer article:

Philips pushes ambient gaming

Including heat, light and air currents… an indoor outdoors

By Marc McEntegart: Monday 07 November 2005, 11:37

PHILIPS has introduced what it claims to be a “light year leap” in ambient experience by controlling the environment in which games are played.

Due for release in May 2006, Philips new environmental gaming device will be amBX. The aim of amBX is to allow games to control the environment in which they are played to an unprecedented degree, including general lighting, heat and airflow around players.

Game developers will be able to script events in games to trigger effects and changes in any environmental aspect of a player’s surroundings. The new technology will work through the availability of current home networking devices in an attempt to bring players closer to experiences games are trying to evoke. The examples Philips gave were those of splash green lighting and increased heat in jungle or fans activating while players attempt a H.A.L.O. jump.


amBX should push the experience of multimedia gaming beyond the mere audio/visual immersion. From the project website:

amBX pic
A light year leap in ambient experience – to the world of computer gaming, spotlighting a technology that will revolutionize the game play experience and extend the gaming world out of the screen and into the real world.

Due for release in May 2006, amBX is a vision towards a full ‘sensory surround experience’. amBX has now become a reality; amBX-enabled games will provide gamers with the ability to use light, colour, sound, heat and even airflow in the real world during game play.

Imagine the room of the future, where all electronic devices are amBX-enabled. The treacherous road to Saigon will turn your room jungle green, swimming with dolphins will splash it deep blue, ‘Halo’ jumps will turn your fans on full, lightning storms will strobe your white lighting, and attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion will blast on your heaters.

amBX extends the gaming world out of the playing screen and into the real world through the use of light, colour, sound, vibration, heat and airflow. To download a copy of the press release please click here.


A passage from, mentions the amBX development and explains a little about Philips’ ambient technologies strategy:

New-content business

Handshake Solutions was unusual in that it was already a separate department when it entered the Incubator. The amBX unit, currently developing technology to create ‘ambient experiences’, is also working under the umbrella of the Incubator, this time to develop an innovation in its embryonic stage. For Joost Horsten, who has headed up the unit for the last six months, this is another example of ‘ambient intelligence,’ following up on his work on Mirror TV. “Ambient intelligence is Philips’ vision of the future of electronics,” he explains. “The amBX unit was born in Philips Research at Redhill after a series of Friday afternoon brainstorm sessions. It aims to stimulate the senses beyond just audio and video – think smells or vibrations when watching TV, or dynamic and intelligent lighting.”
Ambitious maybe, but ambient technologies offer huge growth potential for Philips. Home theater and video-gaming will be only two of the beneficiaries. “One of our dreams,” continues Horsten, “is to create an entirely new type of content business, either within Philips or together with a music or video-gaming business.” “As you can imagine with new technology like this, the early stages are always interesting but getting commitment to take it further is not easy. Technology that falls outside normal patterns may have strategic value within Philips, but without an immediate demand for it, it may be too soon to be picked up.”


And finally, another interesting article mentioning the amBX can be found at

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