This publication describes systems and techniques to adaptively apply virtual ambient lighting to user-interface (UI) elements on a portable electronic device. Portable electronic devices, such as smartphones, include a UI with passive elements and interactive elements. The UI generally presents elements, including interactive elements, as flat, two-dimensional objects. Because the UI does not intuitively differentiate interactive elements from passive elements, a user must rely on prior experience or trial-and-error to identify the interactive elements. This publication discloses a portable electronic device that captures and analyzes the lighting environment around the user of the device and displays onscreen elements as part of a virtual UI environment. For example, the portable electronic device can provide depth, lighting, and shadowing to interactive elements based on the positioning of light sources in the user’s environment. The virtual ambient lighting improves the discoverability of interactive elements, provides depth to the UI, and may reduce eye fatigue.
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Bearman, Nick, "Virtual Ambient Lighting for User-Interface Elements", Technical Disclosure Commons, (March 24, 2020)