Gaming Moves Beyond The TV Screen With Microsoft's IllumiRoom
After the disappointment of CES mostly showcasing bigger screens over mindblowing new gaming systems, it’s encouraging to know that some new innovative gaming hardware was there, if only as video snippets featured in keynotes.
One of those was Microsoft Research‘s proof of concept project the IllumiRoom, designed by Brett Jones, Hrvoje Benko, Eyal Ofek, and Andy Wilson. Using projection techniques, in this case a Kinect and a projector, that have been ruminated on by various people—not least Factory Fifteen’s Paul Nicholls in his speculative video Golden Age – Somewhere—it takes the gaming experience beyond the limitations of the TV screen to create an augmented reality gaming experience.
Microsoft are calling it an immersive gaming experience and, while it might not be the same kind of immersion as the virtual reality environment of an Oculus Rift, it’s still an intriguing concept and means you don’t have to put on cumbersome headwear—so that’s something. It’s not quite the fully immersive level you imagine it could get to—say, for instance, the immersion seen in Marshmallow Laser Feast’s realtime projection-mapped videos for Sony’s PS3—but it’s a start down that path.
And it’s another example of the encroachment of the digital into the physical world. Gaming is probably going to be one of the early mainstream adopters of this hybrid reality, because the benefits for the gamer and the enrichment of the gaming experience are obvious. We just need to be careful we don’t end up never leaving the house again, trapped in a projected prison cell of our own making—not dissimilar to how the characters live in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror episode 15 Million Merits.