Microsoft research released additional details on its IllumiRoom project yesterday, during a presentation at the CHI conference in Paris. The technology combines a Kinect sensor and a wide-angle projector to create augmented reality illusions that, “blur the lines between on-screen content and the environment we live”. The system uses the Kinect to scan the immediate environment surrounding your T.V, including the geometry and position of any furniture. Once captured, the information is used to extend the gaming environment outside the television and into your room! The virtual environment interacts with the physical environment to create a range of immersive illusions that, “makes your living room come to life.” Microsoft research purports that IllumiRoom, “can change the appearance of the room, induce apparent motion, extend the field of view, and enable entirely new game experiences.” In one of the most striking illusions, a grenade was shown bouncing out the television and rolling onto the living room floor. The showcase ends with a promise that IllumiRoom can, “create novel interactive experiences in any room.” and that this represents only a summary of what’s possible.
Microsoft gave its first demonstration of IllumiRoom at CES in January alongside Samsung, generating considerable fanfare and widespread speculation that it was destined for an appearance in the next-generation Xbox. Rumours that were further intensified yesterday, when shortly after confirmation that the next-generation Xbox would be revealed on May 21, Microsoft’s research division released the video in which it detailed IllumiRoom’s mind boggling effects.
However, during an interview with The Verge, Microsoft’s research’s Hrvoje Benko broke the disappointing news that despite explicitly mentioning next-generation consoles in a paper describing the technology, IllumiRoom is a, “five to ten year” look into the future and, “at this point it’s purely a research project”. In an interview with Engadget Benko clarified that the IllumiRoom showcase was to, “envision what the future might bring,” and not a concrete look at soon to be released next-generation technology. Speculation that IllumiRoom was to be released alongside the next-generation Xbox was in part due to the unusually high production value of the video showcase, closer in form to a marketing tease than a technology demo. However, a company representative at CES insisted that the reveal was merely to, “get people excited about the future of research.” It’s possible that the next-generation Xbox will eventually include the technology, but it’s clear that we shouldn’t expect to see it any time soon. There will be no further chances to inspect IllumiRoom’s arresting illusions until a public demonstration at the Siggraph conference in July.
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- Turning your room into a video game: Microsoft releases more details about IllumiRoom (geekwire.com)
- Microsoft IllumiRoom fleshed out: Gaming and movie AR for your living room (slashgear.com)
- Microsoft IllumiRoom is a coffee table projector for the next-generation Xbox (theverge.com)