Microsoft's next-Xbox-bound IllumiRoom project expands gaming outside your TV

The first time we saw Microsoft Research's IllumiRoom technology was back at CES 2013 as part of a brief demonstration. The concept utilized a Kinect sensor in tandem with a projector to project images outside the range of a TV screen, adding to the immersion of Xbox video gaming. While the technology was only shown off briefly at CES, at CHI 2013 Microsoft has divulged some new information on the technology, including publishing a new video demo.

Despite the IllumiRoom technology still only being referred to as a "proof-of-concept", Microsoft are envisioning a coffee table-sized projector that works alongside the next-generation Xbox to "[surround] your television with projected light". When The Verge talked to Eric Rudder in March about the IllumiRoom system, it was described as "incredibly sophisticated", using a quick alternating pattern of Kinect sensing and image projecting.

The system works in any room, as the Kinect can scan the surrounds in 3D and in color to provide an accurate map of what the images will be projecting on to. The projector, which is currently a standard projector in the prototype, uses this map from the Kinect to extend the game world beyond the edges of the TV, pushing explosions, lens flares and other effects into the surrounds of the room.

IllumiRoom features a number of possible illusions, including highlighting the edges of a room, radial wobble that simulates in-game interactions, snow illusions to expand background effects into the room, and various augmented reality situations including having objects fall out of the TV and into the surrounds.

As the technology is designed to work with a "next-generation gaming console", it's highly likely that Microsoft is working on incorporating the peripheral with the next Xbox. While it seems unlikely that Microsoft would launch this system with the console - which will be unveiled at a May 21st event - it could come to the console later in a similar way to the Kinect, which was launched five years after the Xbox 360.

You can watch a new five minute demonstration of the technology here.

Source: The Verge | Microsoft | Images via Microsoft

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29 Comments

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so you buy two expensive and unnecessary cameras for a game console. hmm.

Edit: Kinect might be integrated. cameras facing each other working together?
not very beneficial. why is their no Xbox in the photos?
a temp Xbox should be placed in the scene.

It actually recognizes the geometry of the room/furniture and uses that in the projections. Watch the video, it clearly shows many examples of this.

On the TV / Movie demo, where does it get the extra content from? I can understand in game, it has access to the engine outside the Field of View (on the monitor).

I guess it's tailored content for the outside of the screen for TV watching.

For TV then, so how does this know what the content should be? The train demo looked like it knew (rather than guessed) the train's movement.

Ambilight takes ratios / approximations or the edge colour for the light colour.

lunamonkey said,
On the TV / Movie demo, where does it get the extra content from? I can understand in game, it has access to the engine outside the Field of View (on the monitor).

I guess it's tailored content for the outside of the screen for TV watching.

They tell you that for the movie demo they recorded it using a two camera setup, one of the cameras takes the wide angle shot while the other does the center bit that gets put on TV.

You basically need the video itself to have the wide area recorded as well to feed through the projector.

A kinect and a projector, several years from now. They could probably release it for under $500. You don't need a top of the range projector since it's not intended to be dimmer than your TV.

Edited by Gaffney, Apr 29 2013, 12:17pm :

Microsoft would probably want to use a 1080P projector, the cheapest 720P go for $300. Then add in the kinect, extra wide lens, any other extra's required. In a few years time 1080P will probably be the same price as 720P projectors of today.

I have a feeling this will be something released (if it is released) in a Kinect-like time frame -- about halfway into the next-gen Xbox's life cycle. By that time it won't be as expensive.

It's very nice but I doubt it will be part of May 21st demo or part of initial product release. But we do know that all teams in Microsoft are aiming for incremental, frequent release updates to their products. So may be in a year they could release this as a new feature and announce new games and what not.