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Microsoft patent suggests 360 degree gaming experience

A patent application filed last year by Microsoft suggests that the Redmond-based company is considering a 360 degree, virtual gaming experience.

Published last week by the US Patent Office, the application for an "immersive display experience" shows off what the company calls a "peripheral image" system, which looks much like a virtual reality scenario.

"User enjoyment of video games and related media experiences can be increased by making the gaming experience more realistic," Microsoft's application said. Previous attempts at enhancing reality within games have included 3D animation techniques, better graphic resolutions and sound effects, and more natural game controllers.

By projecting peripheral images onto surrounding walls, Microsoft aims to eliminate distractions and provide an edge to gamers' success. Players could "turn around and observe an enemy sneaking up from behind," for example.

As Ars Technica pointed out, Microsoft seems to be pulling from its own library of game system success with its new patent application, noting features like a depth-sensing camera system and a structured-light-sensing system that's currently available on the Kinect.

Still, instead of replacing current consoles' central TV display, a new 360 degree projector would serve as an extension, the application said.

Even users with a furniture-cluttered living room or off-coloured walls can work the depth-sensing camera, which senses the topography of the room and provides for colour and distortion correction.

There is no guarantee that Microsoft's project will come to fruition, and if the patent is granted, the company said it reserves the rights to make any changes it deems necessary.

According to Microsoft data, Redmond has submitted 1,867 patent applications so far this year, a drop from last year's 2,440 total. In 2006, the corporation applied for a whopping 3,801 patents – the most in the eight years provided.