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Microsoft’s IllumiRoom is What 3D TV Should Be (video)

illumiroomI’ve never liked 3D, no matter whether it was on a tablet or TV.  No matter how good the image, no matter how convincing the faux 3D visual effect, one inescapable problem is that the screen showing the 3D image is always going to be a fraction of my field of view. This offers a visual distraction that always pulls me out of what ever I am viewing.

But if IllumiRoom makes it to the market, that might change. Microsoft Research recently unveiled a new design concept for projecting an image onto whatever surface is in front of you.

Check out the demo video:

They say that the clips in this video were recorded as is and are not CGI added after the fact. I sure hope that’s true.

IllumiRoom uses a Kinect sensor to map the room you’re in and a projector to display the image on the wall, furniture, and whatever else is in front of the gamer. I have not seen it myself, but it is supposed to be able to adapt and display images in real time. I’m told this was shown off at CES, though I didn’t hear anything at the time.

illumiroom 2When we look at the technical details this isn’t that new; rather than being a new type of 3D it’s really more of a way to project a large screen image onto irregular surfaces. It still requires a projector like you might find in most conference rooms, only now it seems that IllumiRoom has managed to do away with the large white projector screen. That is a relatively small improvement in absolute terms but it could potentially upset all of gaming.

As I look at the video again, I’d also bet that it will require a fair amount of CPU power. All that extra imagery means a lot of processing power. This might explain why the Xbox 720, or at least the leaked specs which mentioned the Xbox Surface, listed  a pair of 6-core CPUs and a custom AMD graphics chip. The IllumiRoom might also be a good project to adapt to Nvidia’s new Tegra 4 chip. It has 72 graphic cores and that should be more than enough to pull off IllumiRoom.

In any case, I think this is a pretty cool effect. I’m not that interested in console gaming (KB or nothing), but I would like to see this effect be used to improve the gaming experience of laptops and other not quite-so-huge screens.

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