Co.Design

Microsoft’s Epic Plan To Turn Your Living Room Into A Giant TV

How big is your TV? 40 inches? 50 inches? Well, what if it were the size of your whole room?

There’s this problem in screens right now. We seem to want our experiences to be even bigger, but we’re not sure how to make that happen. 3-D TVs flopped. So do we wear headsets and gloves like Lawnmower Man? Do we wear self-contained glasses like Google’s? Or do we just keep buying bigger TVs?

Microsoft Research has shared the first details of an interesting alternative. Their invention is called Illumiroom. A Kinect scans the shape of a room, then Illumiroom uses 3-D projection to paint your walls and furniture with images, breaking the borders of your TV like a dam bursting a river of pixels into your living space.

Microsoft is declining to comment further on the technology beyond that it can “change the appearance of the room, induce apparent motion, [and] extend the field of view.” But the video allows us to further piece together their imagined use cases. Illumiroom, for however immersive it must feel, inherently lacks the fidelity of a high-def television. So the vital information, like Halo’s shooting reticles or irritated aliens, are always presented on the focal point of the television. Meanwhile, Illumiroom enters the picture as a stylized extension of the environment or a burst of particle effects, filling your peripheral vision with dynamic cues to a larger world.

In this regard, the project has a spiritual similarity to the Philips Ambilight. Remember Ambilight? It was the line of TVs and monitors that projected LEDs onto nearby walls to enhance the immersion factor of movies. But Illumiroom could take this idea to its more ultimate (and satisfying) extreme. Plus, assuming Illumiroom were to become part of Kinect’s SDK, its capability in the hands of external developers--or anyone looking to automate projection mapping on the small scale--could be unpredictably awesome.

See more here.

[Hat tip: Road to VR]

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18 Comments

  • Nic

    Looks like fun. The light show at the end of the day at Disney Land maps a video onto the castle. It sounds a bit rubbish, but is actually surprisingly impressive as the bricks appear to wobble and spin, catch fire and turn to water.

    To work it relies on an accurate map of the castle. The image can then be adjusted to "fit" snugly. The Kinect is suited to 3d scanning of an internal area. I look forward o seeing what they come up with.

  • 4c Design

    Looks like a fantastic technology, great to keep the action on screen as it should be while giving a boost to your peripheral senses. I can imagine it would be really good for racing games where cars are constantly sitting at the passenger window out of sight and waiting to cause a crash. Can't wait to see how this is realised in future consoles, xBox 720 maybe?

  • Joshua1230

    What does this do to your mind? I know when I play video games for more than an hour my perception of reality is a little skewed. I feel like one should drive or operate heavy machinery after using this technology... #thisistheend.

  • Michael Goodbaum

    This is in everyday stupider and worse than just owning a projector and painting a wall with special paint or getting a large screen built. I had that experience half a decade ago. Compared to that this is a hilarious joke. Sort of like how stupid their surfe is compared to ipad. If this is what the best and brightest are spending er time working on, that's screwed.

  • Kenji Sugahara

    Wow.  If you get to watch the Japanese animation "Psycho-Pass" that is currently airing in Japan- there is some pretty interesting tech in there.  Directly related to the post- the technology that is shown in the series allows people to change the look of the interior of their houses/apartments.  e.g. different styles are projected onto walls and furniture to change the way they appear.  If a person likes Victorian, then the room and furniture appear to be Victorian based on what they choose on their personal assistant.  

    As an aside- the series is definitely worth watching if you are interested in science fiction.  It is very reminiscent of Blade Runner combined with Minority Report mixed with Ghost in the Shell.      

  • Michael Hazell

    Sounds like expensive technology. I'd like to see how much money it is to develop the prototypes.

  • iangarstang

    A little gimmicky, but it looks really cool... and anything that can makes games more immersive is worth exploring.  Also, outside of the snow effects, gun fire and explosions it could do some really interesting stuff such as educational games which use the room as an extension of the game or it could be used for some real creepy effects such as ghosts in 'real' doorways or spooky things on the edge of your peripheral vision - tie that into the kinectic's movement sensor and if you move the ghost disappears... 

  • Max

    That is the most depressing video I've seen in awhile. It's a Brave New World and Microsoft is its cheerleader.