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IllumiRoom To Take Gaming Visuals Outside the Box and Onto the Living Room

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the time-to-play dept.

Microsoft 60

cylonlover writes "At CES in January, Microsoft Research teased its IllumiRoom concept, which involves projecting an image around a TV screen to enhance video games with additional visuals. Unfortunately, the company didn't offer much info beyond a short video that briefly showed it in action. But the team behind the project recently showed up at the CHI 2013 conference in Paris with some more in-depth details about how IllumiRoom will not only expand the game screen, but completely alter the appearance of your living room."

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60 comments

No thanks. (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43616899)

I think I speak for most gaming enthusiasts when I say "focus on hardware that will be more robust for a better part of this next generation and the games that will be on it and skip the gimmicks".

Re:No thanks. (2)

xstonedogx (814876) | about a year ago | (#43616905)

You certainly speak for me on this issue.

Re:No thanks. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43616989)

I just had my dick sucked by a fat chick, and both of you are right - gaming is good on the right hardware.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:No thanks. (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about a year ago | (#43616991)

I don't mind folks trying to make a game more immersive, but I think that these guys missed a boat that sailed a good few years back. I think the next major step in immersive gameplay will be a 3D headset coupled with whatever that funny 360 degree slippery treadmill thingy that was on the site a few days ago. That made me a heck of a lot more interested than having a crappy projector sitting in the same area as me.

Re:No thanks. (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year ago | (#43617045)

Too bad the lack of marketing, platform integration, exclusive content (as well as general multi-plat form general content) and perceived "high" price will most likely kill those devices. If they survive they end up being niches even smaller than other computer gaming peripherals like steering wheels or fighting/flying joysticks.

Re:No thanks. (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year ago | (#43623099)

Too bad the lack of marketing, platform integration, exclusive content (as well as general multi-plat form general content) and perceived "high" price will most likely kill those devices. If they survive they end up being niches even smaller than other computer gaming peripherals like steering wheels or fighting/flying joysticks.

Now this is just silly! If you have not played a racing game with a force feedback steering wheel, then you don't know how much better they make the game. Little fucking joysticks that vibrate don't give you the control that turning a wheel does. When you drive you are constantly making fine tune adjustments to the wheel to keep the car on the exact track you want. And the force feedback for driving is more than just same stupid vibration. It gives you a feel for the traction your wheels have on the road, much like driving a real car. You can tell how far you can turn the wheel before you start to lose grip and go into a spin. Now I can't say how well the Xbox or PS work, or even a cheap PC wheel might work as I have a decent wheel. It's nothing super-duper, just Logitech. But it really helps the control and gives you a better feeling of immersion in driving.

Re:No thanks. (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year ago | (#43627693)

You totally missed my point!
I'm NOT talking about how all these accessories improve gaming. As a dedicated gamer myself I know first hand how these accessories can improve the experience from both a gameplay and immersion point of view.
I'm talking about BUSINESS. Steering wheels et al. can be as good as you can imagine, without support, platform integration, marketing, exclusive content etc, all these accessories will be a niche market. Being a good product alone does not guarantee success.
As quick example take peripherals like the Wii Fit, Kinect or even the PS Move with the anything else. They all sell by the tens of millions. I've never heard of a 3rd party peripheral capable of that.

Re: No thanks. (2)

jjbarrows (958997) | about a year ago | (#43617143)

I agree its a few years old. I tried to do this 5 years ago bit got stuck on the rendering a larger view area at lower resolution overlapping but not including the main focal point. I saw in their last demo they used opensource game and must have resolved this issue. but I was trying for a more generic approach and actually thinking only of a desktop view

Re:No thanks. (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#43619239)

Here's the thing. No one is gonna buy a 360 degree slippery treadmill to play games. Not any time soon anyway. It's just not going to happen. Very few people are even gonna buy 3D headsets, the dork factor is just too high and the inability to play/watch with friends and family without everyone having hardware breaks it even more (and that's coming from someone who is legitimately excited about the technology). Remember, although the average gamer is a 25-35 year old male, there are still a lots and lots of kids relying on presents from mom and dad, and mom and dad aren't going to buy something that kid 1 and kid 2 are going to fight over every night.

But a wide angle projector? Hang it in the back of the room and done? It's at least conceivable that such a system would sell.

Re:No thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43619753)

I will, when several games support them. I already have a 3D headset, that will be replaced with an Occulus Rift at some point, and have found that active-gaming on Kinect is very good for my health, so am very open to new ways to be in motion while gaming.

Re:No thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43622411)

The 3D treadmill doesn't work for anything really well except an FPS or maybe a platformer. I think it's suuuuuuper badass there (um, except how do you crouch... oh, yeah, you lose that "immersion"). Would you really spend a grand on something that only really fits a subset of a specific genre. Can't play flight sims, driving games, puzzle games, and possibly even sports games would be reaallly bad (the bball juke, running a passing pattern, tennis, whatever.. all super lame gestures belted into a treadmill, but an enhanced kinect/leap motion/illumirom hybrid would MURDER this).

IMO, this is better because it bridges the gap. Most solutions to problems are good compromises, and this seems like that compromise. Coupled with the kinect 2/3 sensor, you can do head/body tracking and get viewport adjustment with the same sensitivity as the Oculus. You don't have to wear glasses. You won't get the VR headset nausea. You won't get as completely immersive the experience, but it's pretty impressive looking.

Re:No thanks. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43617019)

I think I speak for most gaming enthusiasts when I say "focus on hardware that will be more robust for a better part of this next generation and the games that will be on it and skip the gimmicks".

Oh, we assure you that the TPM will be plenty robust, we've been working extra hard on that part!

Microsoft's Last Place Xbox (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617085)

"I think I speak for most gaming enthusiasts"

The fact that Microsoft's Xbox 360 came in dead last this gen in worldwide sales that Microsoft has done everything but listen to what gamers want.

Microsoft's failure in the console market is staggering. Ten years in the market. Effectively tied with Nintendo's worst selling console, the GameCube for last place. Pulled from the market years early because of Microsoft's incompetence in being able to create cost effective hardware.

The Xbox 360 was rushed out the door a year early to try to pad out its installed base numbers and still ended up coming in last place this gen despite:

* Being 200 dollars cheaper than the PS3
* Tens of millions of duplicate consoles being bought from the RRoD fiasco with Xbox 360 owners buying each new model with hopes that Microsoft finally fixed the RRoD, disc scratching/destroying problems, the absurd noise, and on and on

And yet they still think that their Eye Toy clone Kinect and crap like this IllumiRoom are going to magically turn the Xbox into a Wii type success.

Re:Microsoft's Last Place Xbox (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617167)

I'm not sure about the success of the Wii. Huge sales numbers certainly, but I know ours was collecting dust, until the Wii-U came around and disappointed us.

We didn't even buy an XBox 360. After they had been on the market for years, we received one as a gift (from someone who received it as a gift but already had one). It came with the Kinect. We didn't use it much. The kid wanted Kinectimals. Doesn't play it. We played a few downloadable XBox exclusive games, otherwise haven't really used it. There is one exception. My kid still makes heavy use of the Xbox for a couple of those dancing games. (But for some reason prefers the Wii for these games.)

The only real winner in our house is the PS3. But even they screwed it up. We are heavy downloaders from the PSN store, but now the store is basically unusable. And we didn't bother with the move. Which means we didn't bother with several titles we might otherwise have purchased.

Things were a lot simpler when the next generation meant much better graphics and the differences between the consoles were several key titles (usually first party) so that you really had to get all the consoles anyway. The difference between consoles now are the gimmicks, but the problem is that they are just gimmicks. They aren't radical new gaming paradigms. Yeah, it's neat, but for me (a child of the 70's and 80's) the greatest changes to the controller were the first dual shock, and then wireless. The Wiimote got shoehorned in even if it didn't work. Ironically some of the first party titles (like Wario Shake It and Super Mario Bros. Wii) use the Wiimote the least. These titles aren't going to be showing up on other systems, so they should be making full use of it. But they don't. The controls are perfect - and that's a good thing. But that's exactly what other developers should be doing (or even just ignoring that feature) and they just didn't.

Re:Microsoft's Last Place Xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617229)

WTF? MS have actually had an amazingly successful generation. Sony has been an utter unmitigated disaster going from first to "almost" equal second with the xbox. people didn't buy duplicates for the RROD, they were provided free and they are not included in the sales numbers. MS are slightly ahead of Sony at the moment and will probably finish the gen about equal to them (which is not outstanding considering how bad the Ps3 is but compared to last gen this is an amzing achievement).

Re:Microsoft's Last Place Xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617381)

Not sure what strange universe you are living in, the only company that really has been a failure this gen is Sony and even they made a bit of a comeback, going from first to last place (sony are still last by the way not MS). Secondly the Xbox isn't $200 cheaper than the PS3, thirdly the RROD was only the first gen of 360's, it wasn't 10's of millions, it is estimated to be somewhere in the 4-10 million range, regardless those replacements aren't counted as sales. calling the Kinect a copy of the Eye Toy screams that you are a sony fanboi (pretty hard to imagine any of them exist for that cluster fuck of a company anymore, but I guess each to their own).

Re:Microsoft's Last Place Xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617441)

ah the anti-shill troll...well played!

Re:Microsoft's Last Place Xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617867)

I don't think he is actually a troll, sad though that may seem their really are people like him in the world that despite all evidence believe Sony is and everything they do is jizz worthy.

Re:No thanks. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617181)

nope, I don't think you speak for the majority at all. gimmicks like kinnect, move, wiimote etc I can definitely live without, but something that significantly enhances gaming atmosphere and visuals is something that would definitely be a step forward.

Re:No thanks. (3, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year ago | (#43617195)

not so sure you do speak for most. certainly not me. I like the idea of enhancing gaming visuals beyond the borders of the television, not everyone cup of tea I am sure, but I think it is actually a rather appealing advancement. I agree skip the gimmicks but I don't think better visuals is a gimmick.

Re:No thanks. (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#43617369)

I think I speak for most gaming enthusiasts when I say "focus on hardware that will be more robust for a better part of this next generation and the games that will be on it and skip the gimmicks".

No. Just... No. That demo absolutely rocked, and I would buy that in a frickin' heartbeat if it actually works as shown there.

And I say that as someone who already uses a projector as my "TV" screen - But while it works well for field of vision, it fails in that you can either sit close and have low resolution at the center of your vision, or further away and you effectively get a similar angular size as a TV up close except you don't need to sit on top of the screen. Something that combines both - A bright, high-res macular view, combined with an immersive peripheral field? Awesome. Simple awesome.

Hate all you want, but as a long-time Nintendo fan, that would count as my first XBox.

Re:No thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43618359)

But you are no longer Microsofts demographic target now.
We were abandoned for Kinect and awful XBLA indie games. (really awful, holy crap, it is like a console with a free devkit and no quality control)

Microsoft have become the new Nintendo.
They also, hilariously, think they can pull off another Wii.
Nintendo haven't even been able to do that.
The reason WiiU is doing so terribly is because casuals already have a Wii, they'll not get a new console for another generation+, at best, or if their Wii breaks...Nintendo quality has doomed Nintendo again.
The only people getting WiiU are the new fans of games and the core gamers that held Nintendo from N64 to GC, which as you know was falling fast.
Everyone else is playing Wii or moved to smartphones.

Why the hell is it that only Sony seem to not be directly aiming at that now non-existent userbase?! Something ain't right here.
I think 2012 already happened... this can't be real life, some sort of progressive hell reality.

Yes please. (1)

program666 (2780745) | about a year ago | (#43618943)

Gotta tell you man, I'm not light about my gaming, I play all genres, during many hours. That's pratically all I do in my free time. I'm the ~1000 hours clocked into the Monster Hunter franchise, ~400 hours into the X universe, ~250 hours into the borderlands franchise kind of gamer and I really don't get all the bro's resistance to these gimmics, they aways look so awesome to me.
I'm also very carefull and wait to see if anyone will make good use of them but this one in particular seems to have much more potential than most gimmics.
Having said that this is a microsoft product and I won't play a xbox even if people paid me to do so. The only good thing out of it will probably be the youtube experimentation videos just like with kinectic.
Also, the Oculus rift will render it obsolete anyway.

Re:No thanks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43619243)

I won't go for this style of tech until I get a life-sized Hatsune Miku [youtube.com] or better. At its current level, the tech in the link would be excellent for a game involving ghosts.

Re:No thanks. (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#43621987)

As a gaming enthusiast, I have to say that I've been looking into building my own system that's simpler than this and more similar to what Phillips did with their Ambilight [wikipedia.org] system, since there are a few open-source methods for doing so that have already been developed, but I'd love it if something even more advanced, such as this MS system, were available. My only issue is that all of the current ways of doing it (at least as far as I know) require that the signal originate from a PC that outputs separate video and ambient lighting signals via video output and USB, respectively. What I want is something that can simply take an HDMI input, pass it through to my TV, and then operate on the video signal it received, that way it will work for everything hooked up to my A/V receiver, rather than just my PC.

and get off my lawn! (2)

huckamania (533052) | about a year ago | (#43616983)

Really? Because this is from MS this is uncool?

This, plus kinnect, could be the interface of the future. Install it on the ceiling and you could project a video or keyboard on any flat surface. Never have to look for a remote again. Need a calculator, a recipe, a note pad, facebook, etc?

Re:and get off my lawn! (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year ago | (#43617047)

I am going to be interested in what Kinect 2, 3,4.... have to offer. The current Kinect is pretty cool, but it is cool in the way the Vic20 or C64 were cool. It is awesome for those that are into that specific tech, and you can see the future written on the wall for that type of device, but it is still a gimmick for the masses.

If future versions scale in usability the way that personal computers have, I could see a Kinect style device in most rooms of the house connecting features that we haven't even imagined yet.

Re:and get off my lawn! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43617065)

Really? Because this is from MS this is uncool?

This, plus kinnect, could be the interface of the future. Install it on the ceiling and you could project a video or keyboard on any flat surface. Never have to look for a remote again. Need a calculator, a recipe, a note pad, facebook, etc?

It looks promising for enhancing the immersion value of relatively small screens; but as an interface it would have to be taken in very small doses. Anyone remember those so damn sci-fi you think that the future just travelled back in time and punched you in the face [thinkgeek.com] laser projection keyboards? They suck. Horribly. The ghastliest laptop you've ever had to touch would feel like a Model M, even after spilling something sticky on it, compared to one of those.

For a few big buttons that you only need occasionally, the convenience would probably be worth it; but the nastiest $2 rubber-dome cheapies are so much nicer than 'typing' on a projection that it just isn't fair.

Re:and get off my lawn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617127)

>Anyone remember those so damn sci-fi you think that the future just travelled back in time and punched you in the face [thinkgeek.com] laser projection keyboards? They suck. Horribly

And yet people deal with smartphone virtual keyboards just fine.

Re:and get off my lawn! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43617277)

Touchscreen keyboards are also pretty horrid; but the amount of difference that a little haptic buzz, along with on-screen visual feedback and sophisticated autocorrect, makes is significant. Laser projection keyboards are markedly worse.

Re:and get off my lawn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43618049)

Actually touchscreen keyboards are awesome if you use Swype or some other sliding keyboard. I can do about 30 wpm with my thumb.

Re:and get off my lawn! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43619283)

You could do haptic feedback and the rest with a laser projection keyboard! It would still suck though.

Re:and get off my lawn! (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year ago | (#43618189)

I never used one of those, but I can imagine that hammering your fingers at typing speed onto a hard surface would be quite painfull after a few minutes. (you can't touch type on touch screens, so you're not getting your fingers on full speed there)

That's pretty interesting, but.. (4, Insightful)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43617193)

This is Microsoft research. They do come up with cool things, the cool things just never make it to market. And needless to say, Microsoft developing the product for their own platform will result in a middling device.

Cool? Definitely. Improve the gaming experience? More than likely. Reality? Not even remotely close.

Re:That's pretty interesting, but.. (1)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | about a year ago | (#43619147)

Yeah, Microsoft Research comes up with cool ideas and the end-result is a press release (and that's the last you hear of it). Apple Research comes up with cool ideas and they sit in a secret filing cabinet until the technology becomes viable to bring to market, maybe some 10 years later. The first you hear about it is the finished product.

Re:That's pretty interesting, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43622837)

Apple has a research department that does this kind of thing? I've never seen it, nor heard of it. Sure, they do product research, but I've never seen any evidence of them doing research for the sake of doing research. Perhaps you can point me in the right direction?

how about for serious work? (3, Interesting)

fikx (704101) | about a year ago | (#43617313)

I would think this would be nice for the office or desktop: your open docs and apps can be spread over the desktop, keep whatever you are updating or need high resolution for on the monitor. When you don't need the high res view anymore, drag the window onto the desktop and move something else form the desktop to the monitor.

Re:how about for serious work? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617387)

All you need for that is a regular projector. Illumiroom goes beyond just being a projector, it actually maps out your room in three dimensions and then either projects colors on to objects in the room to set a mood or can correctly perspective map one large viewport.

Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617395)

As a game player i have no desire to jump around like a moron in a graphical room with a kinect. it's a gimmick for little kids.

Who you also don't want jumping around in your home really...

Re:Nope. (2)

black3d (1648913) | about a year ago | (#43617481)

Did.. you actually read anything about it? This has nothing to do with motion of the player. The Kinect is used as a 3D camera in order to determine the shape of your room and the objects in it, so the image produced by the projector can then be altered to provide a "seamless" (subject to position of the player) continuous image, or movement which interacts with the room. About the only thing NOT moving in this is the player, although that would be a logical extension of it.

Re:Nope. (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#43618131)

I'm not a game player, but I do enjoy jumping around like a moron. With or without a kinect. OTOH I don't enjoy my upstairs neighbors jumping around like morons, so you may have a point there.

Re:Nope. (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | about a year ago | (#43618547)

My upstairs neighbors are bats. They're relatively quiet, though sometimes they make some noise up there. When we had the roof replaced a year ago, the previous upstairs neighbors, a family of racoons (seemingly a new litter every spring from the sound of it) were evicted.

Human upstairs neighbors? That must suck.

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43620105)

Human upstairs neighbors? That must suck.

... he says to the basement-dwellers that are the [stereotypical] majority of /.

movie and music application? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43617989)

Since I'm not a gamer, I can't speak for it's desirability in gaming. But I think I can see a niche use for something like this when I notice the "ripple your room" effect mentioned in the slideshow. I like a lot of bass heavy music (yes my neighbour hates me, thanks for asking), I think it'd be cool to have the room appear to quiver in a subtle way in time with the kick drums or long bass guitar solos. For that matter; think of the iconic water ripple scene in Jurassic park. Imagine your room rippling when the water does. Again, done in a subtle way (like most good special effects!) it could really help the sense of immersion.

Re:movie and music application? (3, Funny)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#43618143)

think it'd be cool to have the room appear to quiver in a subtle way in time with the kick drums or long bass guitar solos.

That technology has been around for ages. It's called magic mushrooms.

Re:movie and music application? (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year ago | (#43620487)

While this version isn't subtle enough, I could imagine a better version of this projector replacing all lighting if technology advances in the right way. Pseudo-holographic lighting. Subtly change the "flavour" of the room, give the best lighting for specific objects without affecting the rest of the room, and without having something as obvious as spot-lights/highlights/downlights. Or dramatically change the apparent wall and furniture patterns/textures.

[TFA showed hints with the projection-lighting on the background/furniture around the TV reflecting the type of colours of the thing being watched (rather than just projecting an image extension of the screen.) Exaggerating the colours for cartoons, smoky grey affect when watching black and white, etc.]

illumiwhat? (1)

l3v1 (787564) | about a year ago | (#43618181)

So, when I first saw newsflashes about this at some places, I just couldn't see the novelty in it (since it's not some actual device that you can buy, but basically a research proof-of-concept of a classical projector-camera pairing with depth and surface estimation based on projected patterns). Then, after talking to some people outside the related field, it turned out a lot of people don't know much about projecting to non-homogeneous and/or non-flat surfaces. For such people, Googling for video mapping should clear up a lot of this topic. Yes, this time they are using Kinect, which can make depth and structure estimation easier in a small room, and the effects seem nice enough, however, I just don't see what all the fuss is about. Even the paper lists implementation and feedback analysis as contributions, an I'm sorry but I just can't see the novelties in there to justify a scientific publication. A tech demo, sure, since it's working, it's highly visual and entertaining, can be a crowd pleaser. But other than that...

We want the Oculus Rift (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43618955)

Advances in screen tech due to the explosive smartphone market have made it possible to have good cheap VR solutions. Get on the Ball Sony & Microsoft. Oculus Rift or Bust.

Re:We want the Oculus Rift (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43620043)

I too would much prefer an Oculus Rift for single-player and online gaming. However, there's no way I'm buying several of them for gaming with my friends, besides the cost it sort of defeats the point of gaming in the same room if you're totally cut off from each other except during breaks. Come to think of it though Illumiroom wouldn't be much better - some of the lighting and special effects and such might be workable with split-screen, but I'm not dishing out more than a few bucks for gimmicks, and frankly I think most of them would be more distracting/nauseating than entertaining. Still, it might add a little something for split-screen, while also providing the extended screen for solo play. Of course for first-person stuff it still wouldn't touch the Rift, but for strategy games, etc. it might add something, and would probably be more comfortable for extended gaming sessions.

Did you notice the distance required? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43619267)

Does ANYONE sit 15 feet away from the TV when playing games or working on a computer? This would be awesome if I didn't have to sit so far from the screen that I need binoculars to make out the HUD.

Re:Did you notice the distance required? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#43619579)

Playing games? Yes. Have the Wii and media center computer both connected to a TV about 15 feet from the couch. But I don't play FPS games.

I would use it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43619295)

to hide all the remote controls in the room.

They misspelled SuperTuxKart (1)

asciimonster (305672) | about a year ago | (#43622589)

Nice to see Microsoft is using open source games to show the capabilities of their system. It's a bit disappointing to see that they misspelled SuperTuxCart (sic) in the YouTube video.

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