02 May 2013

Microsoft wants you to use your furniture as a video screen

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Microsoft Illumiroom Microsoft Illumiroom Microsoft/RedShark

Ever wanted a bigger screen? Just re-arrange the furniture. RedShark contributor David Valjalo reports


At RedShark, as you're likely aware, we're seeing 2013 as the year of 4K. But there are some tangential technologies popping up left, right and centre that could either play into the 4K master-plan or at least distract consumers from it. One such piece of tech is Microsoft's IllumiRoom. Announced at CES in January, now - thanks to research documentation released by Microsoft - we have an insight into the science and strategy behind it.

Spatial Augmented Reality

The concept behind this "spacial augmented reality" is simple and similar to that of any AR: merge the real world with the virtual. The difference here is that IllumiRoom - as the name suggests - is an attempt to augment our living spaces and, specifically, the wall and area immediately surrounding our current television screens. Fragging covenant scum in the latest Halo? IllumiRoom makes your entire wall the battleground while keeping the screen the primary focus of your crosshairs. The PR focus thus far has been gaming, but the repercussions and uses in more traditional film and media viewing are obvious: Microsoft is seeking out a middle-ground between pricey home cinema projectors and current viewing habits.

In addition to explaining the technology behind IllumiRoom, Microsoft's official research documents also give away some revelatory pieces of information regarding the business and marketing angle to the endeavour. For a start, the paper identifies that "large displays can be expensive" and singles out Philips' Ambilight displays as a commendable stab at making innovative field-of-view enhancements an affordable and attractive proposition. The paper also suggests IllumiRoom is a sort of spiritual successor to Ambilight, adding: "Our system advances this idea to high-resolution projected content which is dynamically adapted to the appearance and geometry of the room".

Fascinating

It's a fascinating, concise read and one that shows Microsoft furthering its commitment to thinking and playing outside of the (X)box in terms of camera and sensor technology. It's also an exciting read for those anticipating Microsoft's next generation Xbox reveal event, expected to be just weeks away on May 21.

At Redshark we'll be taking a closer look at disruptive gaming technologies like IllumiRoom, including the mind-melting potential of Oculus Rift, very soon.

 


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