Microsoft developing interactive tablet covers and RoomAlive immersive gaming

Microsoft Research is constantly working on projects that may never actually be released to the public. However, that doesn't mean they are not extremely cool. That's certainly the case with with two recently revealed projects: FlexSense and RoomAlive.

FlexSense centers on a transparent and thin piece of plastic that has sensors on top that can be placed on top of a Windows tablet like a Surface Pro 3 The presentation video shows that FlexSense could offer tablet users some new and innovative ways to interact with apps. For example, placing the cover on the tablet while a photo app is running could allow users to physically peel off the cover to show off the effects of a photo filter. It could also be used as a game controller, a photo editing assistant and more.

The other project is called RoomAlive, which is a revision of a previous Microsoft Research effort called IllumiRoom. Both IllumiRoom and RoomAlive offer gamers a way to see content projected beyond the TV screen and monitor that cover up a room's walls as well.

RoomAlive is an advancement over IllumiRoom in that in addition to displaying game content on walls, it can also allow gamers to interact with elements that are placed in the room. Using a combination of projectors and depth cameras, Microsoft says, "Users can touch, shoot, stomp, dodge and steer projected content that seamlessly co-exists with their existing physical environment."

While both FlexSense and RoomAlive look and sound impressive, keep in mind that most Microsoft Research projects never make it out of the lab, although some elements of these efforts could be incorporated into future products. What do you think of FlexSense and RoomAlive?

Source: Microsoft Research, Projection Mapping Central

John Callaham