Apple should implement this cool ‘environmentally-lit’ UI effect in iOS

We may have bid farewell to skeuomorphic design in mobile and desktop interfaces for now, but an ex-Apple engineer is taking another shot at mimicking reality in UIs to great effect.

In a video released earlier this week, Bob Burrough showed off his work in progress on an ‘environmentally-lit user interface.’ Essentially, a fisheye lens attached to an iPhone‘s front camera captures a wide-angle shot of the room around him, and that data is used to create a lighting map, complete with reflections and shadows across the environment.

This map informs the lighting effects that you can see on the graphic elements on the screen – and they change when the lighting around the device changes (of if the user moves into a differently lit space). As Burrough notes, that makes the elements look like they’re physical objects just below the display.

Ultimately, it’s a little UI gimmick – but it’s a really inventive one that could open up more possibilities for creating immersive experiences in apps.

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