RoomAlive, otherwise known as IllumiRoom 2.0, uses video projectors in order to transform any room into a unique gaming hub where one can enjoy a more immersive and augmented gaming experience. Once the projectors begin to roll, players can start touching, stomping, shooting, steering and dodging the projected content which blends seamlessly with the existing environment just like magic. The concept is built on Microsoft's last research project IllumiRoom which demonstrated how projection mapping allows the game to extend from a TV to nearby walls. With the new system, the content is projected throughout the entire room which makes one feel like he's inside the video game itself.
In order to achieve a room-wide immersive gaming, the room is set up with multiple procams that are made up of off-the-shelf projectors, Kinects and a device for controlling. According to Microsoft, the procams are absolutely self-locating and auto-calibrating which means that it can calculate the entire room's 3D geometry features in a matter of minutes.
"In the future we will explore approaches and experiences that involve multiple users and multi-user viewpoint rendering," said the team that is behind the creation of RoomAlive. "We will also explore new ways to increase immersion with spatialized sound. RoomAlive provides a glimpse of how a scalable multi-projector system can transform any room into an immersive augmented gaming experience. Many new and exciting possibilities remain to be explored."
Using one procam will allow the user to have IllumiRoom style experiences. However, using six procam units will enable the user to convert every square inch of the room into an interactive display.
A conventional projection mapping would require that content should be painstakingly created while considering the specific type of object to be projected on. Several things have to be taken into account which would include the object's shape and color and the projector's location and field of view.
With RoomAlive, game designers were able to create projection mapped games that are totally independent of the type of room or surface where the content is displayed. Users can enjoy the game's real-time driven content which seamlessly adapts to the room's exact color and geometry. One example is the way that RoomAlive automatically detects the walls and floors of the room.
Right now, RoomAlive's video projectors coupled with Kinect may be way too much one's gaming budget and quite large to be set up in the living room. Microsoft is hopeful that in the future, this type of technology will turn to be a smaller and cheaper gaming venture.
"There's still lots to explore with RoomAlive as a gaming platform," said a spokesperson of Microsoft Research. "We envision a future where games can use physical objects as part of the game."