EXCLUSIVE: Microsoft’s IllumiRoom: The Next Great Innovation In Gaming?

Gaming has been around now for nearly four decades. That’s forty years of games, consoles, handhelds and a vast number of developers and consumers who have helped to create a form of entertainment that today rivals that of television and music. The video game industry hasn’t reached its current point by sitting on its laurels and remaining stagnant. It has evolved with each new generation, introducing new technology and innovations that both revitalize and revolutionize the industry again and again just when things begin to grow stale. These innovations have become the norm, beginning all the way back in the 1980s with Nintendo and the NES’s D-Pad. Since then, we’ve had the analog stick, twin analogs sticks, Xbox LIVE, motion-controlled gaming with the WiiMote, Microsoft’s Kinect, 3D glasses-free gaming and assymetrical gameplay via the GamePad with Nintendo’s latest Wii U console.

So it stands to reason that that it’s only a matter of time before the next great innovation comes along to capture the essence of the living room and evolve the industry in yet another unforgettable way. And that next great thing may be in the form of a projector.

Microsoft has been researching quite heavily into a newly developed projector dubbed ‘IllumiRoom’. IllumiRoom simultaneously utilizes its own projecting capabilities and the technology of the Kinect sensor to project images around the user’s television. For example: if you’re in an icy environment and it begins to snow, then it will appear as if it is literally snowing in your living room. Another example would be the ability to visibly see the flames of an explosion encompass the surrounding area of the player. It could also create the illusion of in-game objects appearing to exit the television and fall on your living room floor. An excellent example of this would be, say, breaking a Pinata in Rare’s Viva Pinata franchise and its candy innards joining the user in his or her playing space.

IllumiRoom is, at its core, a technologically advanced form of augmented reality. Augmented reality isn’t something that is new to gaming. Nintendo, Sony and Apple have each used its capabilities in their own way with their own hardware; but IllumiRoom raises the bar. It’s setting the stage for augmented reality to
become an everyday, normal part of a gamer’s gameplaying experience. Watch this video below to visualize for yourself just how IllumiRoom actually works…

As the video indicates and TheVerge Reports, IllumiRoom is still only in the researching phase. It could potentially be years before it is completed and ready for release. But taking into consideration the fact that the above video was created and put together in just a few, short months, I believe we’ll be seeing IllumiRoom on store shelves sooner rather than later.

Not everything with IllumiRoom is all bells and whistles, though. One of the key factors of the product being successful is how mass marketed it can become–and that will happen by creating awareness and getting into the hands of as many consumers as possible. There is an issue with that, however: the pricing. Projectors aren’t cheap and I can’t imagine IllumiRoom being any different. Would Microsoft be willing to sell the product at a lower price and take a loss? It’s something they’ve done before so it’s certainly not out of the question. Once it becomes cheaper to manufacture and if it’s successful, then they’ll recuperate their losses and begin to earn money back.

No matter how you view it, IllumiRoom is a game changer. It has infinite possibilities to create incredibly atmospheric and immersive experiences unlike any other. If all of the pieces form together appropriately and Microsoft plays their cards right, then I’ve no doubt that IllumiRoom will be the next great innovation in gaming.

So what are your opinions on Microsoft’s IllumiRoom? Do you believe that it could truly be the next, great innovation in gaming? Share your thoughts in the comments below and also feel free to visit the newly launched RareFanDaBase Forums to discuss Illumiroom and Rare!