Earlier this year, Microsoft showed off an experimental technology called Illumiroom that essentially turns your living room into a gaming display. Albert Penello, head of product planning for Xbox One, says that the next-gen console probably won't ever use this tech because it's simply not feasible.
"I wouldn’t expect you’ll see that,” Penello told AusGamers. “It’s very, very cool tech but it’s, like, for a consumer, it requires projectors and things. It’s really super-neat if you’re in the lab and you’ve got Microsoft money and you could totally set up this awesome lab, but... we looked at it, but for an average customer it’s, like, thousands of dollars [for the set up]."
The Illumiroom projects visuals from the game onto nearby walls. In the demo video, the first-person camera view for a shooter was expanded several feet along the walls to effectively give the player peripheral vision. The glow from key items was also visible in this projected area, making it easier for players to find power-ups. The projected visuals shook when the enemies damaged the player character. In a racing game demo, the Ilumiroom replicated the lighting from the course. The light around the television became bright as the player drove under a street light and then faded as they drove away. Simpler ambient effects, like falling snow, are also possible.
William was unimpressed with the initial demo, saying it paled in comparison to virtual reality offered by the Oculus Rift headset. He also wondered whether it would work properly in a range of gaming rooms.
I agree that the technology doesn't seem very practical right now but it's still intriguing. It's expanding the visual experience of gaming beyond the television, its traditional boundary. It may not be as immersive as Oculus Rift but then again, it doesn't require you to strap goggles to your face either. The lack of goggles makes it more feasible than the Rift for local co-op experiences. Or maybe it could be used for simply watching movies.
Still, Illumiroom's possible uses for consumers don't mean anything if it's not affordable or practical for consumers to own them. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will be able to get the price down far enough and make the technology versatile enough to be worth anyone's time. Who knows if they even want to do it?