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Ambient Reality Effects (A.R.E.)

Company: Smartbytes, The Netherlands


Market introduction: 20-Jun-2005 (prototype demonstrated 01-Dec-2001)

Cost of system: Low Budget Kit €130, Basic Starter Package €165

Short explanation of system:
The A-R-E system relies on the same priciple as other ambient light systems. One or more RGB LED strips are placed behind the monitor and display the average colour of their corresponding part of the screen. The A-R-E system can also be used as a form of moodlight, displaying colours the user prefers with several different effects pre-programmed.

Content of A-R-E Basic Start Package:

  • One high quality RGB LED strip
  • A-R-E software package with additional software widgets and free SDK
  • USB controller and connector box
  • 24V power supply and all necessary cables

The Ambient Reality Effects starter package is expandable with extra LED strips for different configuration options (€60,- per strip). A-R-E can control up to 3 LED strips at once.

A-R-E USB box

A-R-E USB connector box
ARE LED strip

ARE LED strip
ARE Software

ARE Software
Game support:
The A-R-E system supports virtually all games.

Video support:
Depending on the player used for playback of video's, a number of settings need to be changed/done:

Windows Media Player (WMP) Classic: Start WMP Classic, go to view and select options. In the options menu go to playback and select output. In the output screen select under DirectShow Video VMR9 (renderless)**! Now restart WMP Classic and open a video (either DVD, avi, divx or something else). The A-R-E system should now work with WMP Classic! Another way is to turn of overlay mode (see also explanation with Windows Media Player below).

Windows Media Player (WMP): The way to get A-R-E working with standard WMP is by turning of overlay in the Video Acceleration Settings box. To do this go to Options, Performance, Advanced and unselect User overlays under video acceleration.

VLAN player: Setting the video output in the video options menu to OpenGL will enable the A-R-E lighting effects with playback of video’s (DVD, divx, etc) using the VLAN player.

Websites/desktop support:
Native support for any Windows XP and Vista application (excluding Vista Aero mode)

Audio support:
Available via music player visualization (for example the visual effects in Windows Media Player).

Quality of product:


  • Software with a lot of features and settings
  • Large amount of pre-programmed effects
  • Scalable system with extension possibilities


  • Cost of Basic Start Package
  • To enable lighting effects with video playback needs additional settings of the video player

Example of A-R-E effects showing the principle, cycling of colors and during video playback:


Example of A-R-E effects with video playback of Monsters:


Example of A-R-E effect with Doom 3 game play:


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