Go big or go home. Microsoft wows us with IllumiRoom project for Xbox.

Are you an avid movie buff, or a hardcore gamer? Do you own a HDTV and enjoy a high definition experience? Microsoft Research aims to further enhance your visual pleasure when watching the screen with IllumiRoom - a concept that uses peripheral projected illusions for interactive experiences. Forget 3D glasses, this involves subtle projections without any potential eye-strain.

The proof-of-concept system augments the environment where the television is situated with projected visualisations to enhance traditional viewing experiences. IllumiRoom uses a Kinect for Windows camera and a projector to blur the lines between on-screen content and the environment in attempt to combine the virtual and physical elements together.

The system can alter the appearance of the room, induce apparent motion, extend the field of view and enable entirely new video gaming experiences. Checking out the above video walkthrough will illustrate some of the functionality of IllumiRoom at work with Xbox titles making use of the new real estate.

IllumiRoom uses the geometry of the room (captured by Kinect) to adapt the projected visuals in real-time without the requirement for custom pre-process of the graphics. The footage in the video demonstration is captured in its entirety with no post-production effects. Microsoft is already working hard to take video gaming to the next level, and IllumiRoom could fit right in.

Imagine a potential future where you can not only speak to the console, see yourself on-screen in an augmented reality, but also have the environment used to extend the field of view in videos games, providing even more detail for the viewer to take in each second. Doors are also opened up to adapting said environment to cater for different gameplay - hosted events could construct specific rooms for different video game types or titles to immerse the attendee into the experience.

The possibilities with this technology are exciting. We'll attempt to take a peek at the project which has made an appearance at CES 2013.

Source: Microsoft (opens in new tab), YouTube

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • I think I would love this, but I bet it would make your eyes tired fairly quickly.
  • I don't see why, its just a projection. I wouldn't think it would be any different than watching a big tv or projection screen. But maybe I'm wrong. Either way, I'll be in line when it comes out.
  • It's all peripheral content that you wouldn't focus on anyway.  It just expands the experience.
  • OMG, Microsoft just take my money and give me this.
  • +1000000000000000
  • Yea, OMG yes.....Microsoft PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY TOO !!! I have to have this !!!
  • This thing is actually part of the leaked Xbox Roadmap from last year. Just about everything Microsoft has showed off for the Xbox since then has been spot on with the leaked roadmap. This is part of the next Xbox, so you will be able to buy it when the next Xbox is announced, close to E3.
  • Badass
  • Shut up and take my money!
  • hey, this is better than an "eyePhone." nice Futurama reference :)
  • Haha I almost crapped my pants when I saw the eyePhone episode! It's hilarious!
  • Very cool!  Seems a lot like the Oculus Rift except your whole room is the visor.
  • This....kicks....@$$!!!!!! I'm pretty sure this will debut with the Next Xbox. I mean, it has to!!
  • More specifically, the next generation of Kinect. The next Xbox and next Kinect are set to debut together with some amazing stuff. We're all praying MS can deliver something like this effectively.
  • So is this for Xbox or what?
  • Obviously for Xbox. Unless you saw a PS3 ow WiiU in the video.
  • It also says "Xbox: Go big" in the beginning.
  • Omg. Want. Now.
  • Oh! eM! Gee!!!!! THAT'S the Microsoft I know and love...!!
  • Yeah, the NextBox is going to be awesome.
  • I want this so bad. Could you imagine movies with this thing?
  • I love it! Especially because I don't have to look at the peripherals, it's an added cosmetic.
    Also, thanks WP Central for covering more than just WP.
  • OMG!!! They need to create a projector with integrated kinect to let us use our kinect and the projector at the same time. It's awesome!!! Imagine attaching three of those on the ceiling of your living room to have a 360 gaming experience. That with the kinect is pretty close to the movie Gamer!!!!!
  • I see what you did there.
  • This is awesome!
  • Want, want, want...give me, give me, give me!
  • I stopped playing video game for a few years now cause i got bored...maybe this will bring me back. ;-)
  • It looks kinda cool but purpose does it really serve? I certainly wouldn't pay extra for it. You get some cool visuals and colors that project around the tv which is neat but I'd see it more of an annoyance than anything
  • Huh? It's more immersive = more fun. Isn't that enough purpose for you?
  • For me it would help in forgetting I'm sitting in a living room. I could also see it being great for horror games. You're focusing on the darkened screen when you see something move, literally, out of the corner of your eye.
  • this will make you feel like you are inside the video game.
  • Racing Games? I mean, some people hook up 3 monitors for that, with this and a 60"+ HD TV you could see all the other racing cars, pit announcements, plus all the track, and even all the people cheering! Bloody hell, I might as well race next to a real race taking place!
  • Please Microsoft, SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!!
  • Shit Microsoft have really out done themselves with Kinect, everyone thought it was an eyetoy nock of but now its soo much more! Anyone seen the 'V Motion Plus" add? Or is it just a kiwi thing? If it is ytb it, its amazing
  • Now that's innovation....
  • amazing Oo
  • And now we wait  to see who is going to sue for this, because all of a sudden they have a patent!
  • I believe Microsoft has already filed for and received a patent for this.
  • the bbc invented something similar a while back.. but i suspect not similar enough
  • If the 2013 xbox ships with something like this (even as an option) then ps4, nintendo, steam, whoever...  They are screwed.
  • That's Philips ambilight taken to the next level! Brilliant!
  • That's exactly what I was thinking... It's like Philips Ambilight, but not just the colors being projected but whole extensions from the screen. It is definitly Philips Ambilight taken to an whole other level. Now I am wondering, does Microsoft use one of Philips patents by making this?
  • i suspect not. Ambilight looks at an existing video image to infer what colours to display on the ambilight display shining out the back of the tv. Illumiroom is projecting additional rendered information from the games console and mapped on to a 3d scanned surrounding. 
  • When WANT becomes NEED.
  • Now that's cool.
  • Oh. Holodeck! Barclay would like it!
  • That's Ikea furniture.  I'm such a geek. 
  • ***drooolll*** X-Box 720 with Kinect+ or whatever it will be called in my future if this sort of stuff comes with it.
  • Phillips Ambient light )))
  • I know it's been said many times before, but Apple has absolutely NOTHING on Microsoft. This is true innovation.
  • Come on, you know Apple is already working on a way to extend its rectangle patent to the scanning pattern. Once that's accomplished, they'll work on the patent for light itself.
  • hahaha, exactly!
    But seriously this is awesome, i stopped playing games for many years now but i WILL buy an Xbox and the extras needed for this! its just needed with all my beautiful W8 products i own now!
  • One word.....EPIC.
    Please take my money, How much ?
    If you wont take my money, how can I get in the beta test for it ????
  • Super das ist richtig cool
  • Xbox: Go big, REALLY BIG.
  • Nice, Microsoft...wonders never cease :) Can't wait!
  • I definitely hope this is a first step towards consumer virtual reality. There is a lot of potential in something like this, but even if VR was coming to Xbox, it would be a long time. Something like this is certainly a good intermediary, preparing the market and the technology for the bigger stuff. Gaming technology is a field waiting to be taken hold of; if Microsoft can do it first, Xbox could be as widespread in developed countries as Windows.
  • Now that's cool
  • Now this is innovation.
  • Looks really awesome i want it
  • Simply fantastic. To the chap above talking about eye strain, I think this may reduce it. The ambi light from Philips was supposed to be much kinder on he eyes than a standard tv. I reckon this is a fair way away though.
  • I want a planetarium experience in my living room with this.  The potential is just amazing for something like this.  This + surround sound = Neo saying "Whoa...."
  • Imagine using apps on xbox with this..  like netflix or youtube or even IE.  being able to see content that was once hidden... 
  • I have a room waiting for this!
  • This is the future of gaming! Anyone who says this is pointless, or "simply a projection" is missing the big picture and has very little imagination, no vision and no foresight. The potential this idea has is so exceedingly futuristic, it's not funny. Firstly, I must correct one misconception that a lot of people have, IllumiRoom doesn't just project an image in front of you, the image is projected nearly 360 degrees around you, and it also provides depth and pseudo-3D in the projected area. Secondly, I have to highlight some things about this technology (IllumiRoom) versus the Oculus Rift. While the Rift is a good idea, it is fundamentally flawed. Allow me to explain why. The Oculus Rift and Microsoft's IllumiRoom tackles VR in two very different ways. The Rift uses an enclosed method of projecting VR, while Microsoft uses an expansive method of projecting VR. Microsoft's method is more practical and has a greater scope for advancement because it doesn't ignore the important factor of social interaction in gaming. While the Rift is a good idea, it essentially pulls users away from the real world, and encloses them in an environment where they cannot interact with other around them in their real space. The Rift is fundamentally flawed because it completely ignores the social interaction in gaming. Gaming is not simply an individual thing, it's a social thing, where real people come together to share time, experiences and each other's company. The Rift takes away from a very strong aspect of gaming, the social aspect. Players and viewers will not be able to actively participate in the on-screen activities as they customarily do. For viewers and friends to be able to share the experience, a separate connection (wireless or cabled) from the headgear to the TV will be needed. Also, even if a connection is established to the TV, the other users will not be able to experience the same level of immersion as the user with the headgear. In order to achieve the same level of immersion for all viewers, each Rift will have to be connected, or synced. What this does is simply create yet another barrier between the user and the gaming experience, and greatly hampers the social interactivity of gaming. This also adds another cost for users to share the same experience or simply view the screen while one user plays, as they have to either purchase a cable to connect the device to the TV (if it's not wirelessly built in), or purchase more headgear that has to be synced to each other. But, it's not all bad, one thing the Rift excels in is privacy. It is without a doubt that the quality of the VR image on the Rift will be better than the quality of the image projected by IllumiRoom, and Rift will offer better privacy. But the trade off and sacrifice of social interaction is too great. IllumiRoom on the other hand does not face these problems. Users do not have to buy additional units, or connection devices, for all users in the room to enjoy the same immersive experience. One device brings the immersion and gaming environment into the entire room. Because the IllumiRoom doesn't require hardware that closes you off from the Real world, the social aspect of gaming will remain intact, and even arguably strengthened. This is a huge benefit that people seem to miss, or ignore. It is only when they get the Rift in their hands they will begin to see these jarring issues. Although the Rift will provide a higher quality of immersion from the beginning, the design remains fundamentally flawed. While Microsoft can enhance its projection quality as technology advances, the Rift cannot address its most glaring problem unless the entire concept is redesigned. Redmond's concept is the future, that should be clear now. It is the practical, and socially adept future, where as the Rift is a step in the wrong direction with its enclosed nature. Microsoft is trying to bring the gaming world (or anything you view on TV) out into our real world, while the Rift is trying to unapologetically pull you into a simulated reality. The Oculus Rift is a step backward! Also, consider for a moment how immersive IllumiRoom can be with the advancements of holographic imagery; where we can have real 3D projections around us, and not 2D images projected in a 3D space. The Rift cannot do this, at all. It is bricked and limited in its application. Redmond's design can be expanded to many, many possibilities. The Rift; cannot! Lastly, I would like to address the new idea that people's gaming rooms may change. So much so that where many people gamed in their living rooms, now people will have separate rooms dedicated to gaming. Imagine an all white, or all black room; bland, boring with nothing in it besides a comfortable couch. Not so inspiring, is it? But with a simple voice command, you can bring that room to life! Breathing art and beautiful scenery into that once bland room to transform it into world of interactive expression. The Xbox can now have screen savers, with different scenery and images, turning that room into anything, from a dense jungle, to the white snowy Himalayas, to the desert, metropolitan city area, to a fantasy world where dinosaurs still exist, to an exploding star, to strange planet in a far away galaxy. Imagine the possibilities; it surely brings a whole new meaning to Live Wall Papers. IllumiRoom is the future!
  • I wish they would have shot that video in a room with less furniture. I would have loved to see the tv with the stand in the middle and just bare walls to really get a better sense for the quality of the projection.
  • But it was done that way to show "You don't have to re-arrange" a room for this device.
  • Now this looks amazing..  I will pay good money for this..  Microsoft is definitely going the right direction with this...  I believe that this is the future of gaming...  can't wait to have this in my livingroom..
  • I might get the Next gen Xbox, if this is an included feature.
  • The illumiroom technology is amazing, I had the opportunity to check it at my friends house and I was very impressed, his house is huge and he have chosen a room where he would go play on his Xbox and experience the peripheral projected illusions in the room. He had a team of specialists from Bathroom Remodeling Pasadena MD and had to discuss with them so he let me play a little, the experience I felt were amazing, the room changed radically when I started playing.