News, Views, and Reviews
Back in March of 2011, Microsoft applied for a patent for what they called an “Immersive Display Experience”. The application was made public by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) in September, 2012. It refers to “an immersive display experience within a display environment” that combines a “primary display” (likely your television) and a “peripheral image” that is projected onto the environment around you. The application also mentions “a peripheral input configured to receive depth input from a depth camera,” likely referring to Kinect.
In January, Microsoft finally demonstrated this Immersive Display Experience, or “Illumiroom” as they are calling it, in a proof of concept video:
This video shows how the image on your TV stays the same, the Xbox is just adding More to View around your room. The extra images range from simple effects, like adding snow flakes or stars that float around the room, to special effects like the particle and fire effects coming from around the player, and from a black and white outline of images just outside the main display image, to a fully realized representation of the game environment, effectively extending what you can see and interact with.
To be clear, this isn’t the same as connecting your Xbox to a projector and displaying a regular image on a big screen or wall. Using a projector would preserve the aspect ratio and simply enlarge the entire image; it wouldn’t add more images. This screen capture from that video shows what I mean:
Notice how the scale stays the same on his main screen. The gun in his hands and his targets are the same size as they would be if he was playing the game without the extended images. If he were playing on a projection screen, he wouldn’t see anything more than what he can see on a smaller screen. In other words, he would still only see what is displayed on that main screen, it would just be enlarged to fill a bigger screen. That’s a big difference. Notice how the real objects in the room, the shelves, entertainment center, and plants are all accounted for and somehow become a flat surface for the extended environment. The Illumiroom is creating a more immersive environment, and anything that adds or improves immersion is wonderful to me.
This may be an older news story, but I’m still fascinated by the concept. I’ve also had friends and family ask me about it, so I felt it would make a good blog topic. Frankly, I’ve heard the “why don’t you just play on a bigger screen?” argument too many times to take it anymore. This isn’t giving you a bigger view screen, it’s giving you More to View.