Case Study: Built-In Local Area Illumination in Products Guides User Experiences

Posted by on Jul 3, 2023

A bluetooth smart speaker with local area illumination sits on a table and is in front of a light colored background

How Focused Light Guide Applications Elevate Consumer Product Experiences 

Consumers interact with your products much differently than they did five, or even ten, years ago thanks to the widespread adoption of focused light guide applications like local area illumination. Large power buttons and volume dials that physically twist haven’t gone away entirely, but they’ve largely been replaced with illumination because it creates a richer user experience. 

Touch sensors that illuminate when consumers make an action are the new norm. From automotive lighting to Bluetooth speakers and beyond, light guide solutions like local area illumination require thoughtful user interface design and the technology to bring it to life.  

Case Study: Customer Problems Solved with Local Area Illumination Solutions 

Read on to learn how our light guide solutions helped achieve (and exceed) one customer’s goals. Our experts also share their knowledge of local area illumination and how it shapes user experiences. 

Use Case: Illumination Module For Segmented User Interface With An Overlay 

One of our customers designed a user interface with an overlay that needed illumination. The purpose of the illumination was to guide where the user should interact with the device and to indicate whether the device was ready for use. This is a common request! However, it has its challenges. 

The customer’s design used top-emitting LED devices that emit light directly onto the overlay from behind. Without any modification from our team, the result would be a bright spot on the overlay directly under the LED and dim spots as users move away from the LEDs’ viewing angle. Light from one region of the product would also bleed or leak into other areas of the user interface so areas of illumination would not be tightly defined. This wasn’t ideal for our customer! 

Global Lighting Technologies expert engineers stepped in to develop an edge-lit LED light guide solution that: 

  • Reduced the thickness of the assembly 
  • Improved the uniformity of the device 
  • Utilized two-shot or overmolded design to allow for independent illumination zones and prevent light leakage 

Our customer was pleased that results exceeded their expectations, and their user experience would be elevated. 

Continue on to learn more about local area illumination, its applications and challenges. 

What is Local Area Illumination & How Do Manufacturers Use It? 

Local area illumination provides feedback to let a user know an action has taken place. For example, in automotive lighting, a car entertainment system may use this type of lighting on its main control button. When the user presses the button, an illuminated icon or ring around the button indicates that the user has activated it. Users benefit from the visual assurance that their action was successful.  

It also helps users understand when a product is actively in use. Take an audio speaker for example. Higher-end speakers with a light guide can pulse with light while music is playing.  

Yet another example is the ring on the outside of most Amazon Echo Dot models. When users activate the smart speaker with a voice command, an illuminated ring on the outside of the device indicates it’s actively listening and waiting for a command.  

For manufacturers, the possibilities to use local area illumination for more immersive consumer experiences is endless. Read on to see why local area illumination is an engineering challenge for many manufacturers. 

Challenges of Local Area Illumination for Product Applications 

As beneficial as local area illumination is for the end user, it can pose a challenge for manufacturers. The biggest hurdle to overcome is light bleed. Engineers must ensure that light is localized and contained within the desired parameters without creating an unwanted bleed to other local illumination areas. 

Illumination Experts Bring Your Ideas to Life 

Small spaces require sophisticated lighting technology engineers to make your illumination goal a reality. At Global Lighting Technologies, our engineers create precise optical designs to ensure uniform illumination around edges, buttons and other shapes without light leakage into unintended areas of the product. Explore other light guide applications on our Resources page.

Achieve your goals with a custom light guide solution. Our passionate team is ready to help you begin your next project! Connect with a Global Lighting Technologies team member by calling 440-922-4584 or emailing

We bet you have a bright idea.

Let’s see how GLT can help make it a reality.

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