Microsoft’s IllumiRoom Demo Shines New Light on Next-Gen Potential

Published 1 year ago by

At the convergence of Kinect and the power of projection lies Microsoft’s latest weapon in the war for the living room: IllumiRoom.

Unveiled this January at CES 2013, garnering reactions from the skeptical to the bespectacled, the still-prototype IllumiRoom harnesses Kinect‘s motion-sensing capabilities as it projects dynamic, real-time images across a wide, living-room-wall sized field of vision (all the while communicating with the Xbox itself, of course). Coinciding with a presentation at CHI (Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems) 2013, Microsoft has released the 5-minute demo above elucidating IllumiRoom’s augmentative talents.

Resting on a user’s coffee table as what Microsoft hopes will be its centerpiece, IllumiRoom perceives both in-game action and the accoutrements of its abode. Kinect maps out the walls, the television, the surrounding furniture shelves or bookcases; all the while the projector — not much larger than a fairly thick novel — overlays textures, or “illusions,” corresponding to the action on screen.

illumiroom Microsoft demo trailer xbox 720

This is where the projector becomes a master manipulator. Naturally, IllumiRoom’s most basic function is what Microsoft calls “Focus + Context Full” — expanding the out-of-view game world (the context) over the rest of the wall. But the options beyond that seem infinitely complex. IllumiRoom can darken out the context, accentuating the light around its edges; limit the context elements, such as to incoming bullets or nearby explosions; or even keep light away from certain objects in a room, as if the action were unfolding behind your cabinet or houseplant.

IllumiRoom even does mood lighting; the entire atmosphere of a room can tweaked and tuned with black-and-white, saturation, and edging settings in accordance with a game’s vibe. Such is the case when we see snowflakes piling up on shelves; shadows spinning around as a car drives beneath streetlights; or a ball bouncing off the TV screen and continuing its journey on the floor.

Xbox 720 IllumiRoom Trailer Footage

Not surprisingly, Microsoft has suggested that IllumiRoom is being tested for its next-generation Xbox. Buried in an in informational document released ahead of its CHI presentation, the company claims that the device would “be connected wireless to a next-generation gaming console as a secondary display.” If that’s the case — although, unlike Kinect 2, IllumiRoom likely wouldn’t ship standard with every console — imagine playing Battlefield 4 as bullets whiz around the room or an explosion rocks a nearby family portrait. It’s not just surround sound or surround vision — it’s surround action.

That being said: we’d still approach IllumiRoom with a healthy dose of skepticism for now. Aside from its current prototype status, the trailer is, ultimately, a carefully orchestrated, pre-packaged tech demo assembled by Microsoft. While it makes a convincing argument that snowfall, expanding scenery and lazer show-like light distortions are nothing but gimmick-free tableaus of gaming goodness, it’s hard to know just how the mind would perceive the same experience in person — let alone again and again and with a different developer’s interpretation of terms like “radial wobble.”

Ranters, what do you think of the abilities on display in the IllumiRoom demo? Would you like to see Microsoft reveal more about the device alongside its next-gen Xbox unveiling on May 21?

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Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.

TAGS: Microsoft, Xbox 360, Xbox One

9 Comments

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  1. ok that alone would get my attention to want to buy the next xbox, as long as its not like an outragous price like $800 to add on to it

  2. At that point, just play your games with a projector instead of a tv. This is kind of dumb when you think about it.

    • its not meant to take over the tv, its meant to add effects to your peripheral vision.
      it can adapt colors and shape distortion using Kinect so when the image is projected it is pre distorted to compensate for the shapes in your room. and can compensate colors so colors well look right as well. but again its not meant to show your full game, its meant to create a peripheral sense to what’s on the TV, BUT in addition it can see your room in 3D, this well allow the projections to work with the 3D in your room.
      for example, if it was showing snow falling, then technically it could allow the snow to pile up over time on top of 3D objects in your living room, like snow piling up on your shelves or table.

      so again its not ment to replace your tv, just taking the idea of peripheral visuals to the next level, their are some TV’s that use basic ambient color LEDs to display solid colors for ambient lighting. but this is taking to the next level.

      in the end it may be sold as a general Microsoft product that may work with both PC and xbox. I think they learned that with the first Kinect which was made for xbox. was well received by the hacker community. so if this becomes a real product it well probably be made for both platforms.

  3. That is just really distracting. And when you finally get used to it, you won’t even know its there. Pointless.

  4. A bit disappointed to be honest. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. A projector that plays distracting little tricks? No thanks. Seems like nothing more than novelty tech. I think Microsoft is going to end up regretting dumping money into this project.

  5. I can’t wait to see the Epileptic Seizure Warning on this thing.

    (Also, who thought this was a good idea?)

  6. Hmm could we borrow this for a rave? Put some Rabbit in the Moon on and just let the xbox do the visuals.

  7. NOW THIS IS WHAT YOU CALL A GIMMICK! This is utterly pointless seeing how the Oculus Rift bound to be here in the next 2 years

  8. I’m not so negative about this, I think it’s a nice idea and has a lot of potential. Remember this is just a proof of concept, nowhere near what could be considered a polished, finished product.

    I liked the ripple effects and the lighting effects when driving. I think with the right developers some interesting gameplay elements could be incorporated into this. I certainly don’t think it should be written off yet, based purely on a proof of concept video. Let’s give it a chance.

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