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Microsoft's IllumiRoom brings augmented reality to the living room, but is 'five or ten years' away

IllumiRoom, a fascinating augmented reality tech from Microsoft, is targeting "next-gen consoles," but could be further away than we'd like.

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What is IllumiRoom? First debuted at CES this year, it's a fascinating experiment from Microsoft that combines a Kinect camera and projector to "blur the lines between on-screen content and the environment we live in." There are a number of applications for the technology, but its integration with gaming proves to be the most exciting. For example, you could have imagery projected around the room, expanding the game beyond the boundaries of your television. You can even project weather effects in the room, to add an extra layer of immersion while playing a game.

Microsoft says that the tech would be possible on "a next-generation gaming console," which makes it seem likely to arrive on the next Xbox. However, Microsoft continuously repeats that "it's purely a research project."

In an interview with The Verge, Microsoft Research's Hrvoje Benko said that the mention of next-gen consoles and IllumiRoom are not an "explicit reference" to the Xbox, but rather a look "five or ten years" down the road.

Benko does admit that the Xbox and Kinect teams have been working closely with IllumiRoom, saying "there's a dialogue going on continuously there." However, there are a number of issues that the team must figure out. Primarily, the team needs game developers to work with the device. "That's something we've only scratched the surface of," Microsoft Reserach's Brett Jones notes. Although the company has performed "informal user studies," the company has not yet talked to external developers about using the tech.

Andrew Yoon was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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  • reply
    April 30, 2013 2:05 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Microsoft's IllumiRoom brings augmented reality to the living room, but is 'five or ten years' away.

    IllumiRoom, a fascinating augmented reality tech from Microsoft, is targeting "next-gen consoles," but could be further away than we'd like.

    • reply
      April 30, 2013 2:35 PM

      This is awesome.

      Could make things interesting though. I thought the future was oculus rift esque viewing.

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        April 30, 2013 9:49 PM

        I don't think this is necessarily supposed to be the "future" of anything. It's a really cool enhancement for video games, though. Definitely interested.

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      April 30, 2013 4:30 PM

      I love the radial wobble effect at 2:17. Hope MS takes time to flesh out some good uses out of this. It has lots of potential.

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      April 30, 2013 5:40 PM

      Even if it never sees the light of day... it's a very cool idea. I especially like the part where they map an image of your furniture on top of itself so they can make it vibrate etc. That's a pretty cool effect.

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      April 30, 2013 7:34 PM

      Believe it or not this technology already exists for PC. The game Farcry 2 on PC support amBX which is more or less what IllumiRoom is.

      http://ambx.com/showcase/ambx-gaming

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        April 30, 2013 8:11 PM

        That's not even remotely the same. Some modern TV's can do what amBX does, it's nothing special.

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        April 30, 2013 8:23 PM

        I'm struggling to understand how you could've watched the IllumiRoom video and this one and come to the conclusion that this is even remotely the same along even a single scenario.

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        April 30, 2013 8:42 PM

        lol

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      April 30, 2013 8:23 PM

      [deleted]

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      April 30, 2013 9:01 PM

      Man, that wobble and cartoon effect is really, really, really awesome.

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      April 30, 2013 9:38 PM

      love seeing that Illinois Logo :)

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      April 30, 2013 9:54 PM

      [deleted]

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      May 1, 2013 2:05 PM

      That is not such a good idea. It could hurt your eyes a lot.

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