Microsoft Immerses Gamers with 'IllumiRoom'

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has revealed a new video game technology that turns the space around a television set into an extension of the screen, completely altering the gaming experience for the people playing.

During this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft unveiled 'IllumiRoom.' It's a new technology that draws part of the room into the gaming experience and delivers additional game content.

The 'IllumiRoom' technology relies on Microsoft's Xbox 360-based Kinect device and a projector. IllumiRoom uses the Kinect peripheral to capture the geometry of the gamer's surroundings and integrate it into game-related displays.

Video Game Images Pushed Beyond the Screen

Once a game is underway, the projector is able to literally spread the game imagery beyond the normal screen dimensions, creating a unique sense of depth and scale within the game's virtual world.

In a first-person shooter game, for example, the usual destruction from a firearm would be enhanced by pieces of debris flying across the actual room in which the game is being played.

The idea behind 'IllumiRoom' is to make use of the gamer's peripheral vision to help create a new, deeper sense of immersion for the player.

According to one of the Microsoft developers working on the project, the system is designed to "change the appearance of the room, induce apparent motion, extend the field of view and enable an entirely new gaming experience." (Source:

The idea for IllumiRoom came from an "immersive display" patent that Microsoft pursued last year. At the time, Microsoft said it was working on developing a "more realistic" system that would eliminate "out of context images" positioned next to a television screen this is actively displaying a game.

Early Issues with Image Distortion, Complacency

However, some analysts see faults with the IllumiRoom system.

One major criticism is that, even with Kinect scanning the surrounding area beforehand, images from the game displayed within the room tend to bend around furniture, creating perceptual distortion. Given that problem, critics question how much IllumiRoom actually adds to the overall gaming experience.

Unless video game developers become convinced IllumiRoom a great idea, they won't build new games that make use of the technology. (Source:

Microsoft has not yet revealed when IllumiRoom may be released to the public. However, many observers are speculating that the technology may hit the market alongside a new version of Xbox, tentatively known as the Xbox 720.

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