Microsoft turns room into video game with IllumiRoom project

Microsoft Research will publicly demonstrate the technology in July

The IllumiRoom project from Microsoft Research turns a living room into a video game with projected images that extend and complement the main television screen. The realistic effect, if commercialized, could propel Microsoft's gaming business far beyond its competition.

The system uses a Kinect sensor and off-the-shelf wide angle digital projector. The Kinect sensor first scans the room, taking into account its geometry, furniture and colors. Once that information is captured, various "illusions" can be created, according to Hrvoje Benko[cq] a researcher at Microsoft Research, speaking Tuesday at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Paris.

"We know what your room looks like," said Brett Jones a Microsoft Research intern who worked on the project while earning his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "We have 3D information and we have color information. We take that and build a game experience around it."

For example, in a first-person shooter game, the scenery around the main character can be projected on the walls around the television screen. Or when the shooter is in a gun fight, bullets can appear to fly out of the television and whizz past the gamer.

"A lot of previous research has said, 'Let's take a virtual thing and put it in your physical environment,'" Jones said. "What we wanted to do is take a physical environment and make it virtual."

The research team started with games since that seemed to be the most natural fit, Benko said, adding that the technology could be extended to other media like movies and television.

To see an interview with Benko at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Paris, watch a video on YouTube.

Microsoft Research isn't working with any specific game developers at the moment, but solicited ideas and feedback from a few, Benko said.

He said not to expect any news about IllumiRoom at the upcoming Xbox announcement on May 21. "At this point it's purely a research project," he said.

Asked whether he thinks the project will one day move toward commercialization he said, "We obviously like to have things that will be adopted with a wider audience, but in terms of the final form factors and this particular implementation, that's an open question."

IllumiRoom will be publicly demonstrated at SIGGRAPH 2013, a research conference in Anaheim, California, in July, he said.

Creating the complementary content for the projected images is one potential challenge for game developers. If game developers wanted to extend the field of view, they would have to provide it, Benko said. It can't be imagined by the IllumiRoom system, he said.

"But some of the more effective [illusions] are about timing," he said. Some effects like the "radial wobble" could be "triggered in the periphery."

The radial wobble is a visually striking effect where the projector provides an exact copy of the room. When a shooter fires a gun, a sound-wave ripple can be seen moving across the room.

Another effect included lighting changes in the room as a race car drove along a course.

"I think the most effective ones will be the ones that are used sporadically to emphasize something in particular," he said.

In another demonstration, researchers showed a grenade bouncing on the television screen, rolling out in the living room and under a coffee table. He hopes the future of the project will allow the gamer to pick up the virtual grenade and throw it back into the game.

"You're breaking the barrier of what you can do for real and what you can do in a virtual sense."

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags gamesgame softwareGame platformsgaming peripheralsCHI

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nick Barber

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?