Microsoft IllumiRoom tech

At this point, it seems like Sony’s and Microsoft’s next-gen consoles are just more powerful iterations of the current boxes. Sure, the PlayStation 4’s graphical capabilities are impressive, but I was hoping for something a bit more futuristic from it.

Enter Microsoft’s IllumiRoom projector technology.

IllumiRoom is a coffee-table projector that can expand a game’s visuals beyond the borders of a television and to a room’s walls, furniture, and floor. The projector uses the Kinect 3D-camera sensor to understand the layout of the room so that the imagery projects properly. This means IllumiRoom can use the surfaces of your TV stand, for example, as part of the gameplay.

Check out the mind-boggling demonstration, via GamesHQMedia, of the IllumiRoom proof-of-concept from January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:

Microsoft released a research paper that explains IllumiRoom in detail. The document stresses that this isn’t a real product and is only a “proof of concept.” It even shows how the IllumiRoom box is just an off-the-shelf projector with a Kinect sensor hooked on its hood.

If the Xbox company can figure out how to productize IllumiRoom, then it could set the next-generation Xbox apart.

The applications are obvious from the video. Extending field of view to help highlight important objects or the direction of enemy fire alone could reduce gameplay confusion in first-person games. Turning the room into a reactive cartoon world is something that could wow casual consumers that are not normally into console gaming. This is something that an iPad can’t do.

Microsoft plans to reveal its next-gen Xbox on May 21. We’ll have more information about the console, and maybe IllumiRoom, at that time.