At CES 2013, Microsoft unveiled an interactive 3D gaming experience called IllumiRoom. The system measured the geometry of the surrounding room and used projectors to extend the virtual field of vision beyond the gaming screen. Microsoft said it blurred “the lines between on-screen content and the environment we live in.”
In October 2014, Microsoft unveiled the next evolution of 3D gaming technology: RoomAlive. The system is an expensive soup of cameras, projectors and motion sensors that transform a room – any room – into a virtual environment. Gamers feel as if they are inside the game as the walls of their bedrooms metamorphose into graffitied alleys, fantasy worlds and dark shadows.
Six Kinect sensors mounted to the ceiling track the gamer’s head as he or she moves about the room. Each sensor is matched with a mini-computer and a wide-view projector. The group can map a room, figure out its geometry, and adjust the game appearance accordingly. “Users can touch, shoot, stomp, dodge and steer projected content,” says Microsoft.
Since RoomAlive sensors and cameras are auto-calibrating and self-localizing, the system can adapt to any room. The procams track the user and adjust the perspective so the projected content always appears 3D.
At this point, RoomAlive is only a proof-of-concept demonstration of Microsoft’s wizardly techno skills, but enthusiasts hope that the technology will be integrated into future versions of Xbox. “There’s still lots to explore with RoomAlive as a gaming platform,” says Microsoft.