Nintendo have already played their hand in the next gen console wars, Sony have given us a few hints at what they might be doing and now it's Microsoft's turn to wow us with a futuristic demo of what it calls IllumiRoom.
This proof of concept is almost certainly the concept Microsoft patented in 2012. This was discovered by patentlyapple.com in Sept 2012 New Microsoft patent shows off an 'environmental display'
Xbox Go Big!
Microsoft demo ed IllumiRoom via a video at the Consumer Electronics Show, CES 2013. The video starts with a gamer asking the Xbox to 'Go Big'. This initiates what appears to be a scan of the room by a device facing the TV. After the scan has finished, a projector above or maybe behind the gamer projects subtle images across the room. These images are visual cues that respond to the game being played.
The first game seen in the IllumiRoom demo is a first person shooter. Firing a gun triggers the device to project fire blast images around the TV and across the back wall. Shrapnel trails that result from hitting a target now spread out from the screen and almost seamlessly onto the walls behind the TV. The next sequence appears to take over the entire room, as the character is seen running in an urban environment, the whole scene is extended onto the walls and floor of the room, increasing the field of view massively.
The next IllumiRoom visual affect demoted appears to use the image previously scanned of the room and projects it back onto the walls. The image appears changed, as though it has been put through a crayon/sketch filter. Now firing the gun causes the whole room to (visually) shake in time with the gun fire. Microsoft research refer to this as 'inducing apparent motion'.
The next game is a Mario Kart style game. The kart is seen racing through a snowy landscape and snow flakes are seen bouncing off the walls around the TV screen.
It looks like IllumiRoom has gone beyond the concept stage, Microsoft Research actually have this working. They've confirmed one thing, that the room scanning is carried out by a Kinect for Windows camera. They also mention a projector, but this doesn't currently carry the Kinect moniker.
IllumiRoom can be subtle or invasive
The IllumiRoom demo showcases how the technology can be used subtlety as well as invasively. Presumably this setting will be available in games if this concept ever makes it to production. Much like the 3D slider on the Nintendo 3DS handheld.
As we saw in the past with the Xbox Kinect Milo demo, some of these Microsoft concepts never actually make it into production. Possibly because they're not economically viable. IllumiRoom appears to make use of a HD projector, which is never going to be cheap to buy or run. You can find more details on IllumiRoom on the Microsoft Research site http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/illumiroom/ and further details will be made available at CHI 2013 in Paris 27th April - 2nd May http://chi2013.acm.org/