The way we play video games is forever evolving. Nintendo brought motion control to the masses with the Wii, while the rise of smartphones and tablets has meant the number of casual games (and casual gamers) has grown exponentially over the past few years. What is next on the agenda? The signs all point towards a more immersive experience being the main aim and Microsoft Research is keen to lead the way with IllumiRoom.

IllumiRoom brings the visuals of video games out beyond the boundaries of the television. Using a Kinect for Windows camera and a projector, IllumiRoom is able to bring certain elements of individual games into your living room. The camera scans your personal space to capture the dimensions and geometry involved, which the projector then utilizes for displaying images. These range from a direct extension of the playing area, to the appearance of particular effects such as snowflakes or sparks.

IllumiRoom isn't yet an actual product, but as a proof-of-concept it's clearly related to the "immersive display experience" patent Microsoft applied for in 2011. The patent describes a system which brings a "peripheral image" from the television screen into the room occupied by the gamer. This system looks to be competing with the new breed of virtual reality systems such as the Oculus Rift and Sensics SmartGoggles gaming headsets.

Sony showed off a similar application in 2011 which utilized the PlayStation Move. With both companies expected to unveil their next-generation consoles before the end of this year it's entirely feasible that this kind of "Holodeck" experience will be available to gamers sooner rather than later.

Microsoft showed IllumiRoom off during the Samsung keynote at CES 2013, and further details on the future product are promised at CHI 2013 in Paris at the end of April. In the meantime we'll have to make do with the video embedded below, which shows IllumiRoom working in real-time with images being captured and rendered live.

Source: Microsoft Research via Engadget