Back at CES Microsoft dropped by the Samsung Keynote to show off a new technology called IllumiRoom. It promised a technology that extended gaming beyond the edges of your TV. It looked really cool but almost too good to be true, the presentation was so slick. Here's that first video:
Yesterday we got a much longer look at IllumiRoom. It's still looks really cool but, to me at least, it now looks much closer to a real project. (I'm reminded of the first 'teasers' we had of Project Natal, later known as Kinect, versus what was actually delivered.) Basically the system combines a Kinect camera (to read the room) and a projector that integrates with your Xbox gaming console. The console controls whats on the TV and the projector fills the rest of the wall with extra video.
The game should be designed to support IllumiRoom for the very best results, but even if it isn't the system can enhance a game by tapping into the conversation between controller and console to read what direction you're moving and shifting lights or abstract patterns accordingly.
You know what? What you really need to do is watch the new video rather than listen to me blather on about it:
IllumiRoom isn't an official product yet (it's considered a 'proof-of-concept' system for now), and I'd be surprised if Microsoft could pull it together in time for the launch of the next Xbox (though I'd love to be wrong), but I'm betting it could be their big reveal for 2014 or 2015: a way to keep the Xbox brand fresh and cutting edge.
Personally I'm ready to give Microsoft my money right now; I think this is really cool tech, and it can be enjoyed by both gamers and movie watchers. Plus it should work equally well for everyone in the room, so it's very inclusive tech.
What do you think? Is this the next big thing, or just a gimmick?
If you want to learn more about the IllumiRoom system, Microsoft has published a paper with a lot more details.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.