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Microsoft Illumiroom

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#1 Milcho   Members   

Posted 01 May 2013 - 10:42 AM

Don't think I saw a topic on this, though I'm sure many of you are aware of it.


There's a video of a demo for it here: 


So, I'm curious what people think?


I've been finding it hard to get excited about new tech over the past couple of years (at the old age of 25...), but this was one of the few products I think I really found interesting. There's a bunch of cool things I can see with this - especially since it scans your environment and uses that as a backdrop for some effects. I can see games designed specifically to take advantage of that.


However, I'm also a PC gamer, being either too poor, or not stable enough in my living arrangement, most of my life to have both a console and a computer (and I need a computer more). 

 have a desk with a monitor and a chair sitting in front my bed. My monitor can double as a TV, so plugging in a console shouldn't be a problem, but this setup requires the user to sit back behind the projector for the full effect.

Do a lot of you guys who play consoles, play in a manner similar to what's shown in the video? Where you sit on the couch, maybe six feet from the TV to play consoles? I know some people, especially those without 40"+  TVs don't do that, and usually are quite close to their TVs. Hell, I even have a friend who owns a 42" TV who has it slapped on a desk and still sits close to it, almost as close as a regular monitor.


This is on top that any extended video game FoV, as they show, can give people motion sickness, and/or headaches (at least so I've read).

The playing a movie demo they showed also requires a dual cam to capture it.


I also wonder how much more effective this is than just buying a projector screen? Or using your large, white wall (not uncommon) to play movies or games on it? I briefly had a setup like this while I temporarily had a project - using a large white wall to play movies.


So, thoughts? Opinions? Also, this semi-innovative thing comes from Microsoft - so.. hatred? :P

#2 Servant of the Lord   Members   

Posted 01 May 2013 - 02:57 PM

I saw the video yesterday, and I thought it interesting.

I don't want any gameplay that's specifically related to it, but I'm all for anything that increases immersion.
Personally, I think the greatest (and cheapest!) immersion enhancement a console should release would be head-tracking.

IllumiRoom would be highly distracting in my living room for anyone not watching the gameplay - it'd be blaring the lights from the projector onto the faces of the people sitting next to the TV (~6 feet to the left of it) who are reading or using laptops.

A primary concern would be the cost. Suppose you get a high-powered projector down to under $100 (from their current costs of about $500-600), someone was complaining to me recently how expensive real powerpoint project bulbs are. I don't know the actual costs, but they were really careful how long the projector was on for because of the bulb cost. This was an overhead power-point projector in a church, so maybe it's a higher end one, but considering IllumiRoom needs to project enough light to visibly change the appearance of the room you're in, and isn't being projected onto a guaranteed neutral-colored background, it probably needs an intense bulb.

According to PC Mag, they used this projector for the proof-of-concept.

  • Projector cost: $719.99
  • Replacement bulb: >$180 (2,500 - 4,000 hours - it'd need to be replaced every two years, I'd guess)
  • A separate Kinect (facing the TV instead of the player): $230


Now they can trim out the parts of the Kinect and the projector that they don't need... but even squeezing all they can out of it, I don't see this being any less than $175 in the next 4 years (with $50 replacement bulb every two years), as an add-on accessory (similar to how the Kinect was an add-on to the XBox 360). Remembering also that they have to have a computer chip (~10$) in the device to processor the camera input to mask out the projection, and a wifi chip to stream game visuals to the device, I don't see how it could get much cheaper than that.


Cost of headtracking? Well, it could probably be done already with the existing Kinect, and if it can't, it'd only cost a <$15 dollar pair of glasses (with no lense needed) or headband to enable the existing Kinect to headtrack accurately (skip to here for the result)... and it'll improve immersion more than the projections would, in my opinion.

Another concern would be that games either will have generic IllumiRoom projections... or else have to have support coded in. For support coded in, they likely won't want to waste too much processing power displaying thousands of polygons that are only in the player's peripheral.

As far as your coffee table concern goes (and even if people have coffee tables, they don't want a 15" x 12" x 6" projector taking up the space), I'm sure they'd offer a ceiling mount possibility - even if it's a third party accessory. Existing projectors already are frequently ceiling mounted (to go over people's heads).

But, if the real concern about the cost can be addressed (which historically always gets addressed given enough time), I'm in favor of increased immersion - and I feel like this is definitely something that would increase immersion greatly.

Edited by Servant of the Lord, 01 May 2013 - 03:18 PM.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' or 'SotL' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
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#3 Hodgman   Moderators   

Posted 01 May 2013 - 07:17 PM

I saw this ages ago, but it's popped up this again this week for some reason. Was it demonstrated somewhere recently? AFAIK it's just a research project, and isn't being commercialized in the near future.

I own a projector already that I use with my Xbox :) I don't need another one painting the fringes. And yeah, the furniture arrangement in their demo is not universal; not everyone has a coffee table/couch/tv like that... I think they're already being too risky/arrogant by building a kinnect camera into the new Xbox's casing, so that you have to position your Xbox under your TV in full sight of the room...

If they can make a cheap projector, it seems more sensible to just sell/use it as one to give people bigger displays!

#4 MaxDZ8   Members   

Posted 02 May 2013 - 01:42 AM

I liked it the first time I've seen it. But I'm not sure it's really viable.

Previously "Krohm"

#5 noisecrime   Members   


Posted 04 May 2013 - 07:11 PM

Personally I think its little more than a gimmick, at least the way its being used and sold here. I could see it attractive for added immersion, but strongly suspect you'd actually just get really tired of it quickly, not to mention even with the auto-calibration the set up requirements are unlikely to match most peoples situation/environment. I'd say its pretty clear this is not a real room, but a 'set' designed specifically for the demonstration too.I'm very suspect about how it would work with games to fill your lounge wall, yet still keep what you'd normally see on the TV screen. For example if the game was running at 1920x1080 on your 40" TV, just how big would the game have to be rendered in order to include the peripheral parts projected onto the wall around it?


That is not to say i'm not impressed with the technology, but its been around for a long time. When I first saw the illumiroom last year I was instantly reminded of this demonstration from a white paper on the matter back in 2005 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nDf5AOJWy4. Sadly the video upload quality is pretty poor compared to expectations today, but i'm actually more impressed by the features this shows off, especially the way it can be used to create almost holographic like images, that appear to float in front of the projection surface. Of course this is helped greatly by the fact that it can adjust the projection based on viewing angle too in real time.


As such I think illumiroom is going to be an interesting stepping stone in the commercialisation of such technology.

#6 Bacterius   Members   

Posted 04 May 2013 - 09:45 PM

Interesting. That said, the "ultra large screen" mode would probably make most people dizzy really quickly. And the insane edge distortion would make it useless anyway (we're nearing, what, 150 degree FOV here? might want to swap in a better perspective projection model). Most of the "features" also don't really enhance anything. I kind of liked the snow effort, but the warping effect is just pointless and a gimmick that belongs more in a nightclub than in a living room. To be fair, I suspect it would find more use as a general purpose gadget, not specifically for gaming.


But I'm just waiting for my holodeck here.

“If I understand the standard right it is legal and safe to do this but the resulting value could be anything.”

#7 way2lazy2care   Members   


Posted 05 May 2013 - 11:46 AM

For example if the game was running at 1920x1080 on your 40" TV, just how big would the game have to be rendered in order to include the peripheral parts projected onto the wall around it?

I don't think that would be an issue at all. People are thinking of it as a screen extension, when it's meant to add periphery details. It wouldn't need a huge resolution at all or have perfect color accuracy; that's probably where they'd get most of the cost savings if they took it to market.

That said, Microsoft has had tons of awesome stuff in research that never made it to market as it was revealed. Usually their research gets broken up and put in other less awesome projects. If you want to see something else awesome, this is something I would love to see.

#8 Litheon   Members   


Posted 06 May 2013 - 04:20 AM

It surfaced again this week because of CHI2013 conference  (conference on computer human interaction)




And the paper:


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