About a year ago, Microsoft showed off a prototype for a project titled IllumiRoom, which utilized the Kinect and a projector to extend a game from beyond the frame of a TV. It projected an extended field of play beyond the confines of a television set.
Unfortunately, Microsoft said the project was too expensive to include with Xbox One systems that many assumed it would be a part of. However, Microsoft continued working on the project even as the Kinect had been dropped as a standard feature of the Xbox One. Recently, Microsoft Research posted a video on YouTube showing off their progress on the, now titled, RoomAlive prototype. This new model forgoes televisions altogether and uses the Kinect and a series of projectors to scan your room and create a fully surrounding game-space. Microsoft is billing this as an “augmented entertainment experience” and the video shows off how the Kinect projects levels and enemies onto your walls that you can interact with.
The video is still showing off a prototype of the RoomAlive tech, but developers already have future plans in mind.
“In the future we will explore approaches and experiences that involve multiple users and multi-user viewpoint rendering… We will also explore new ways to increase immersion with spatialized sound. RoomAlive provides a glimpse of how a scalable multi-projector system can transform any room into an immersive augmented gaming experience. Many new and exciting possibilities remain to be explored.”
This could be Microsoft’s answer to Virtual Reality that the Oculus and Sony are championing, or just an attempt to make the Kinect relevant again. Personally I don’t see how an extension of the Kinect, “your body is the controller,” theory will work a second time. Not when the strides to virtual reality are so great, so early to release of the full VR technology. How do you think this will work out for Microsoft if they decide to release this to the mass market?