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.