microsoft illumiroom ces 2013

At CES this week, Microsoft has revealed a research project called IllumiRoom. The system combines a Kinect with a projector to scan your TV room and show content that extends beyond your TV. The goal is to create a more immersive gaming experience by adding peripheral information. The IllumiRoom appears very similar to a patent application recently filed by Microsoft.

Microsoft, who isn’t holding a keynote proper at CES this year, showed off the following IllumiRoom video at the Samsung keynote:

Microsoft is calling this a proof-of-concept, though the video above is apparently not just CGI trickery. According to the company, “the effects in the video are rendered in real time and are captured live — not special effects added in post processing.”

Credit for the project goes to: Brett Jones, Hrvoje Benko, Eyal Ofek and Andy Wilson of Microsoft Research.

Microsoft filed for an ‘Immersive Display Experience’ patent back in September which detailed a system for adding peripheral virtual imagery to the walls of a gaming room. The patent was a bit more ambitious, showing all of the walls in the room with projected imagery, than what we’re seeing here.

This is a neat gimmick, but I’m not entirely convinced that it would significantly enhance the gaming experience, at least not from what was shown. Maybe it would work better if you had blank walls next to your HDTV. Players would also need to pay for and mount a projector — it seems like a lot for a little. What do you think, worth it or not?

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Here’s the official announcement from Microsoft Research, which also says to “stay tuned for more information and a paper explaining all the details coming up at ACM CHI 2013.”

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  • To be honest: I really love this idea. True enough, the majority of people don’t have projectors lying around, but a fair number of people do have one.

    And btw, your comment about the blank walls proofs you have absolute no idea what this is about. This isn’t about a fancy proof of concept (as of course it’s possible to use far better hardware and setup in this case), this is about making the living room gaming experience better and more immersive. Something which can not be accomplished by hardware like an oculus rift (as vr headsets are solo devices which is not the same as living room gaming).

  • Shane

    I hate how they want to take a step back into gaming. The Oculus rift destroys this silly gimmick. What I’m expecting from next gen: Headset (enough with a tv, I want to be inside the game), and no controllers. I want to shoot a gun? Then let me position my hands as if i’m holding a gun. I don’t want to sit on a couch, look at a tv, and hold a controller. This is the future. Let me be inside.

    • Ben Lang

      I tend to agree. A single HMD / VR headset makes way more sense than buying a big HDTV and a projector!

      Still there is something to be said about sharing the experience… you can’t sit on the couch and watch a movie with friends on your HMD!

      • Shane

        Btw, Ben, I want to thank you for this awesome site. I can’t find many blogs that “get it” like you do. I’m always checking back here to see what’s up, because I’m obsessed with the future and beyond excited that virtual reality fantasies are now becoming possible in just the coming years! I feel like when 2010 started we got over this bump where now technology is moving at an unbelievably fast pace, and every 5 years technology is advancing like how it use to take 30 years. (If you get what I’m saying.)

        Sadly, I was expecting the next gen consoles to be ground breaking, like, have a headset + entirely motion controlled. But it looks like its going to be the Xbox 360 with a few fancy gadgets and better graphics. Maybe its the next gen AFTER this next gen that will be the true futuristic idea I’m imagining. That idea would be something of an mmo, except since you have headset, ect. it would be something like Second Life but you actually get to be inside of it, and the graphics would be near perfect.

        Anyways, keep up the great work. And I’ll try to donate to the site soon.

        • Ben Lang

          Thanks for your words Shane, it means a lot to hear from people who enjoy reading the site! Sharing the site with others is a great way to help if you like what you’re seeing!

          When I bought my Xbox 360 back in 2005, I had no idea I’d be playing it 7+ years later without a replacement. To be honest I think the 360 has held up very well… though some of that may because that developers have to pander to this aging console generation (since almost all AAA titles are cross-platform these days) rather than just pushing ahead with games that consoles wouldn’t be able to handle (check out Unreal 4 tech demos to see what’s possible on today’s top PC hardware).

          Like you, I’ve been hoping that the big three console makers were doing R&D for something big (VR!). Unfortunately it seems that the success of the Wii, with the casual gaming audience, threw Sony and Microsoft way off course. Instead of developing the next big thing for core gamers, they were busy chasing the market that Nintendo was rapidly vacuuming up.

          Now, as you say, the next consoles seem like they’ll be more of the same, with some gimmicky motion stuff crammed down our throats.

          Unless the Oculus Rift sets off a major chain reaction for VR gaming, it’s likely that we will indeed have to wait until the next NEXT generation for VR consoles. Assuming the forthcoming generations last for as long as this one has — we’re looking at 2021 before we see a VR console from the ground up launched by one of the big three!

          If Oculus/VR takes off, we may see mid-generation VR add-ons (like the Kinect and Move of this generation). Or perhaps VR will take off in such a big way that it’ll disrupt the 8 year console cycle as people move to PCs for that sweet VR action.

          One thing is for certain at this point: the gaming industry is about to become volatile — something that I think will be good for it as a whole.

  • Shane

    Well said, I agree on pretty much everything you just said. I’m probably going to start switching to pc gaming. I’ve held back because of my lack of skills of using the keyboard and mouse for gaming. And like you said about what can be done on pc hardware, I’ve been very jealous, for example, I got really excited for Battlefield 3 when I saw the gameplay for it, and when I bought it for my ps3 I was confused why it looked and felt much cheaper than the PC version, because for some reason I thought the consoles were ahead of PC in terms of graphic and engine. How stupid I was when I found out it was the opposite…

    So, anyways, if motion controlled gloves were made that could replace the keyboard+mouse and if the Rift can work for PC then I don’t really see a reason I’d ever use the console again. 

    And I’m spreading your site around as much as I can to everyone I know.

    (p.s. English isn’t my first language so sorry for grammar errors)

  • Shadow

    not sure the group gaming thing stands up to the test. tell me how three people sitting on a couch in a room and then being in VR enviroment (thats not defined by the room size is not better than a louge size gaming experience with adds and signs on the side? dont get me wrong any idea is worth looking into, but can you see you and you wife/kids standing on the edge of a mountian in skyrim being made possiable by this? what I think this would be awesome for would be every day TV and doing work etc at the same time (a bit like that tom crusie movie(forget the name now)) multi chatting emails tv workstation all going in the same room sitting at your couch.