23 Jan 2013

Will the XBox 720 have Surround Video?

  • Written by 
Microsoft Illumiroom Microsoft Illumiroom Microsoft/RedShark

We only have the sketchiest details about this - and a video! It's a new way to get immersed in video games that might also show the way for film production in the future

You can see how way-out thinking around future games consoles has become. Motion-based controllers have brought users away from their sofas and now Microsoft is proposing to bring the video out of the TV screen and onto the walls, floors and ceilings of the game-participants' living rooms.

Furniture as a projection screen

As you can see from this video, the idea is essentially a simple one to understand, but hard to implement, because it involves projecting moving images onto furniture. Typically projection screens look best when they are not obscured by sofas, chairs, coffee tables and bookshelves, but with Microsoft's IllumiRoom, these very domestic artefacts are the projection screen.

The system automatically calibrates the video output to take into account the irregular shapes and positions of the objects in the room

I don't think there's much doubt that games will be made more engaging using this technique, which will inevitably be positioned as the video equivalent of Surround Sound.

Questions

But I do have a big question about this:

If you're going to use a projector, why not just get rid of the television and put up a white screen in its place, as big as you need it.

I can't be the only person in the world who has thought this, and I'm sure Microsoft has as well. And I suspect that their reasoning is that this will only work as a product if it is priced very cheaply. HD video projectors are typically anything but cheap.

Peripheral vision

But the key to this (and to justifying the retention of a television in this set-up) is that the system is designed for peripheral vision, which, as we know, is has a pretty low resolution compared to the central, very small area of vision that you read, or watch HD television with.

So I suspect that you would only need a very low resolution projector for this, one which, perhaps could actually be build into the games console.

We shall have to wait and see.

Microsoft might surprise us all and build this into the next version of the XBox which is almost certainly going to be announced this year. If they don't they can always add it as a peripheral at any time.

And, while we're on the subject of "surround video": why should this technique be restricted to games consoles? Wouldn't it be a great addition to films?

 


David Shapton

David is the Editor In Chief of RedShark Publications. He's been a professional columnist and author since 1998, when he started writing for the European Music Technology magazine Sound on Sound. David has worked with professional digital audio and video for the last 25 years.

Twitter Feed