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Microsoft’s ‘IllumiRoom’ tech extends games beyond your TV

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Microsoft IllumiRoom (Credit: Microsoft)

Console manufacturers have been quick to point out the advantages of playing video games on a big screen, but Microsoft has loftier ambitions.

The company unveiled their ‘IllumiRoom’ technology in January at CES, but we're now getting a more complete picture of what it can do. And it's pretty cool stuff.

In a nutshell, IllumiRoom extends the game beyond the borders of your television. Working in conjunction with a wireless projector that sits on your coffee table, it projects images from the game onto the walls surrounding your TV.

A video showing the technology in action claims the technology "can extend the gaming content out of your TV, creating a truly immersive experience. Or we can selectively show game elements, like explosions, or make it snow in our living room."

While the technology can broaden the canvas on which the game is played -- potentially alerting you to items of interest off screen or widening the environment -- it can also project light to change the appearance of the room, making cookie-cutter bookshelves look like cell-shaded art.

It's a fascinating proof-of-concept video, one that has led some people to leap to the assumption that it will be a feature in the next Xbox. That's probably a bit optimistic, though.

People familiar with the new Xbox say IllumiRoom is not a part of the new system -- at least at launch. And if Microsoft were planning to incorporate this as a killer app, the company would likely have kept it very secret, as it did with Kinect before that system's reveal.

That said, we should know more on May 21, when Microsoft finally takes the wraps off of the new console -- though if it were going to include IllumiRoom in the new Xbox, it's possible the company could hold this back for a reveal during its E3 press conference.

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