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Microsoft shows off immersive 'IllumiRoom' gaming technology ahead of Xbox One launch

Ahead of Microsoft's 21 May Xbox launch, the team at Microsoft Research this week revealed more details about IllumiRoom, which brings a more immersive and interactive gaming experience right to your living room.

IllumiRoom is described as "a proof-of-concept system that augments the area surrounding a television with projected visualizations to enhance traditional gaming experiences," which means everything from extending gameplay to the borders of your living room to making it appear as though it's snowing inside the house.

"Peripheral projected illusions can change the appearance of the room, induce apparent motion, extend the field of view, and enable entirely new physical gaming experiences," the team said in a research paper about the project.

To bring IllumiRoom to life, the team used a commodity wide field of view projector (InFocus IN126ST) and a Microsoft Kinect sensor, which were mounted behind a player's head as they sat on a couch in front of the TV. The Kinect sensor captured the coloUr and geometry of the scene, and the projector displayed the illusions around the TV screen. The system is self-calibrating, the team said, so it can work in any living room.

What will you see? Microsoft showed off a few options in a demo video (above), starting with Focus+ Context Full, which basically brings whatever game is on your TV right into the living room, expanding your view. With Focus+ Context Edges, meanwhile, only an outline of the gameplay will escape the TV. There's also Focus+ Context Selective, where only certain parts of the gameplay become part of the living room; with a first-person shooter, for example, IllumiRoom could bleed only weapons fire or explosions out of the TV, Microsoft said. It could also point out players just out of site on the TV screen with markers to the left and right of the TV. IllumiRoom can also display beyond the TV, opening up your field of vision.

Like a gaming version of Instagram, meanwhile, IllumiRoom allows for different filters, like saturation or black and white. Something known as Radial Wobble can also distort reality. There's also effects that allow for falling snow, as well as lighting and objects that emerge from the game and fall onto the floor and walls.

IllumiRoom is not limited to gaming; Microsoft said the option to extend the TV screen and show a panorama view could be applied to movies and TV shows, too.

IllumiRoom will likely not be ready for primetime by the time Microsoft's 21 May event rolls around, but researchers are hard at work.

"Before the IllumiRoom system can be in every living room, the final form factor, cost and computational requirements of the system must be determined," they said in the paper. "While there are many unanswered questions regarding peripheral projected illusions, we hope we have demonstrated that they are worth answering."