When Microsoft first demonstrated its IllumiRoom research project at CES last year it generated a huge amount of attention ahead of a next-generation Xbox unveiling. A video showed off a projection system that was linked to the Xbox to extend games from a TV to nearby walls, and appeared to be more than just a concept demo. It turned out that IllumiRoom was "just research" after all, but Microsoft is back this year with IllumiRoom 2.0: RoomAlive.
Six Kinect sensors bring your living room to life
RoomAlive builds on the familiar concepts of IllumiRoom, but pushes things a lot further by extending an Xbox gaming environment to an entire living room. It’s a proof-of-concept demo, just like IllumiRoom, and it combines Kinect and projectors to create an augmented reality experience that is interactive inside a room. You can reach out and hit objects from a game, or interact with games through any surfaces of a room. RoomAlive tracks the position of a gamers head across all six Kinect sensors, to render content appropriately.
RoomAlive’s video projectors and Kinect combination is far too costly and large for living rooms right now, but Microsoft is imagining a future where this technology will be smaller and low-cost. Sony has created similar virtual reality experiments in the past, but Microsoft’s system can automatically detect the floors and walls of the room to let the system work anywhere. "There’s still lots to explore with RoomAlive as a gaming platform," explain’s a Microsoft Research spokesperson. "We envision a future where games can use physical objects as part of the game."