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If you thought your grandma was dangerous with a Wii Remote, just wait until she starts leaping round the living room, whacking moles on the cabinet.

Microsoft Research debuted its RoomAlive project this weekend, showing off the technology that can transform any living room into a giant, interactive augmented-reality display. It’s only a proof-of-concept right now, but it shows that Microsoft is still keen to make use of its Kinect camera. The company packed in the motion-sensing device (a move that upset some people) with every Xbox One console at launch, keeping the price of the console higher than its direct competitor, the PlayStation 4.

One of the demonstration modes for RoomAlive lets players whack moles appearing around the room, using their body or a gun peripheral. Another mode sees players using a traditional gamepad to control a robot that moves round the living room, across the floor and up walls. RoomAlive can also project images from media beyond games into a room, such as a forest complete with a river running past your feet.

Of course, setting up a room as an interactive environment isn’t straightforward, and the RoomAlive demonstration uses six projectors and six Kinect units to run, all suspended from the ceiling. Such a hardware-intensive setup makes the project far from commercially viable in its present state. For a start, I’m not sure my ceiling would take all that extra weight.


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The RoomAlive system self-calibrates, however, so as long as you can get the cameras up, with their fields of view overlapping, the tech side of things should largely take care of itself.

RoomAlive is a very similar concept to Illumiroom, another experimental project that Microsoft showed off last year. Illumiroom only extended the gaming environment to the wall behind a TV, but RoomAlive takes things to another level.

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