Microsoft Research, Microsoft's department for experimental computer science projects, has unveiled the "IllumiRoom," a projector system that extends the action in video games beyond the edge of the TV screen. What's most impressive about it is that it doesn't require a flat white background to work properly. Microsoft is currently demoing the project at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES). From the Microsoft Research website:
IllumiRoom is a proof-of-concept Microsoft Research project designed to push the boundary of living room immersive entertainment by blending our virtual and physical worlds with projected visualizations. The effects in the video are rendered in real time and are captured live -- not special effects added in post processing.
The system uses a Kinect for Windows camera and a projector to create the effects seen in the video below. It scans the geometry of a room using the Kinect, then uses its measurements to adapt its projected visuals "in real-time without any need to custom pre-process the graphics." Microsoft claims the feature can extend the field of view beyond the TV, change the appearance of a room, or induce apparent motion.
It sounds silly, yes, but give the video a look. This is the sort of impressive technology that gamers should hope is part of the next generation of console hardware. Also, it may very well be a precursor to the holodeck-style gaming experiences of the future.