One of the more exciting things to come out of this year's CES (Consumer Electronics Show) was Microsoft’s new IllumiRoom technology. What exactly is IllumiRoom? Microsoft’s research website will very eloquently tell you that IllumiRoom is ‘a proof-of-concept system from Microsoft Research. It augments the area surrounding a television screen with projected visualizations to enhance the traditional living room entertainment experience.’ Sounds pretty space-age right? Have a look at the trailer below – which contains no CGI or after effects of any kind - to see IllumiRoom in action:
Now that you've seen the technology at work, I'm sure you’re beginning to understand the potential it has for enhancing gaming. You see, I find gaming is at its best when it’s doing one thing and one thing only: totally immersing me in the experience at hand. That’s it. It’s not always about making graphics as super realistic as possible, or letting me use the latest motion controller available. These things can help in the right context, but alone they don’t always cut it.
With IllumiRoom's apparent ability to extend your screen across an entire wall, gaming should become more real than ever. The ordinary objects that surround us will never again hinder our immersion because they will become a part of the world that we’re experiencing. It seems that this technology will be applicable to any genre of game, and will enhance the experience in any number of ways, some more subtle than others. Unlike certain developments in gaming, it shouldn't feel forced or alien; it should enhance the experience in one of the most natural ways imaginable.
Of course, I haven’t spent any time at all with the technology, and all of this excitement stems purely from the trailer. I know that this premature enthusiasm could result in my hopes and dreams being shattered into thousands of tiny pieces, but even if IllumiRoom does fail to meet my high expectations, it is without a doubt a step in the right direction.