Microsoft’s IllumiRoom takes us one step closer to achieving a 100% immersive gaming experience, without needing any virtual reality headsets. The IllumiRoom, first unveiled at the CES in January, combines the virtual and physical worlds to literally take game visuals outside of your TV set and project them around your room.
So how does the IllumiRoom work? The system uses a Kinect camera and a projector that can screen content on your walls. Kinect captures the geometry and colors of your room and the projector projects the images around your TV screen. The system is self calibrating and can work in any room. For the time being, the device has to be mounted behind and above the user, preferably on the ceiling, but the Microsoft Research team on the project hopes to develop a coffee table version soon.
But the IllumiRoom does more than just projecting an image around your TV to enhance your screen. It can also adjust the appearance and colors of your room to reflect the esthetics of your video content. It can saturate your room’s colors to make them appear black and white or it can give the entire place a cartoonish look, by overlaying objects with birth colors and dark outlines.
The IllumiRoom can also project the same features of the room and distort them, if the gameplay demands it. The room can thus ripple or shake when you fire a gun in the game. The system will also allow virtual objects to interact with your room: balls bouncing out of the screen and onto the floor, or snow piling on the ground in front of the TV.
This enhanced view can work with any type of video content, not just games. With movies, for instance, the IllumiRoom can either turn an entire wall into a projector screen or extend the visual effects outside of your TV set.
The concept is still being tested and rumors that it would be ready when the next generation Xbox console is released were rejected by Microsoft Research. More details about the IllumiRoom were revealed at the recent CHI 2013 conference in Paris. A demo will be released for the general public in July.